Breath of Fire Review


The Breath of Fire video game was a lot of fun so it was time to see how the manga would fare. Adapting a complete RPG in only 6 chapters is definitely quite the task. I’d say the manga did a good job but of course for obvious reasons it does cut a whole lot out. Things tend to move quickly here, particularly the climax which has to go at lightning speeds. Some of the villain generals also don’t get to appear here. For example you’re not going to see Goda here unless he had some kind of wordless cameo. Even in the game these guys didn’t appear much until the end though so it’s not too surprising.

The manga starts off with a ton of lore and the cliff notes version is that the world was once inhabited by a bunch of dragon clans. One day the Dark Dragons decided to go and murder everybody for some reason. The White Dragons were the only ones that could have stopped them but unfortunately they decided to become complete pacifists so they just watched as everyone got slaughtered instead. I’d be steamed if I was anyone living in that world tbh. Well, eventually the dark dragons got to the final survivors and nearly murdered them too but Ryu’s sister Sara made a deal to keep it as a 1 on 1 fight. She sacrificed herself so that Ryu could live.

Fast forward a few years and Ryu has made it his life’s goal to destroy all of the dark dragons. This will not be easy but he’s ready for this. Inn the meantime he also comes across other characters who have had their lives ruined by the dark dragons as well. The heroes will have to move quickly though or there won’t be a world left to save. They are also heavily outnumbered and so the heroes have to make sure that their plans are completely on point.

This feels like a very classic action adventure story. You’ve seen the characters and this kind of adventure before. It’s not trying to be super ambitious or anything like that and is just trying to tell a good story. It works well at doing this and if you like fantasy adventures then you will definitely have a good time with this one. Ryu makes for a solid main character. He’s your classic heroic kid who has a personal grudge against the villains. As the series goes on he learns that rage isn’t the way and that he must fight for justice instead.

Ryu never backs away from a challenge and will defend his friends to the end. He jumps right into action whenever there is danger and so I definitely don’t have any issues with him. I thought he handled all of the situations really well. Then you have the main heroine Nina who is rather retro in how she’s always beating up on poor Ryu. She can’t fight super well or anything but she does have healing abilities which come in handy. What Nina lacks is self confidence as she is easily set off by the sorceress Deis with rather light teasing. Nina needs to stay strong so she doesn’t cause any trouble.

Danc gets a fairly important role here as he has a tragic sob story as well and is ready to help out. The kid can’t really fight but helps give a motivational speech as one point. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of his but he’s not bad. If you want a bad character, Manillo fits that bill. They try to play him off like a decent guy by the end but I wasn’t buying it. He wouldn’t let the heroes get a boat so they could go save the world because he wanted extra money. His offers to them were pretty bad on the kinds of other tasks they could do to raise money. I don’t see how any of the characters were cool with him after that. They should have just knocked the guy around instead.

Builder gets his moment to shine as well. Things started out rather rough for him but the heroes helped him regain his confidence and make a comeback. Ultimately he got a happy ending which was nice, things almost got pretty dark for him there. Gillian also has his own chapter and that’s probably one of the perks of being an early character. I feel like you get more time to shine since you’re also around in the background for the rest. He’s a good character and helps everyone stay calm.

Mogu is an example of a character who came in too late. By the time he appears the series is pretty much over so there’s not much for him to do. He is a nice enough character who wants to help out but you don’t really feel like he can fight as well as he may think that he can. Deis is the final member to join the group and she’s a fun character like in the game. Her abilities are actually really good so she can help Ryu on the front lines unlike the others. Her spells have a lot of versatility to them and you can count on her help in any circumstance. She does enjoy teasing Nina for sure but you can say that it’s to help make Nina stronger. Deis has quite the strong personality and definitely helped to enhance the overall team dynamics.

As for the villains, most of them didn’t really make the cut here so the roster is rather small. You have Zorgon who thought he was the leader but he is manipulated from start to finish and never actually gets to look all that good. In the end this guy was really all talk and his role is so small that you may chuckle at the end. Judas is definitely the standout villain. He makes his presence known at all times and is incredibly powerful. He lands a lot of super big blows to the heroes and is relevant for the whole series. He gets more to do than I would have even expected and it makes for a great character arc.

Naturally Ryu’s sister Sara is also really solid. She’s determined and has a lot of power just like he does. She never backs down and doesn’t end up playing second fiddle. Sara just goes in and keeps on fighting all the way through to the end. She gets one of the most emotional moments in the manga. Finally you have Myria who is really the big bad here. The destroyer of the universe and she has other cool titles like that. She can fight and has kept up with the power creep over times.

While her goals may not be much more than total destruction, she does a good job of setting this into motion. Myria is strong and I liked her well enough as a villain. She may not stand out in terms of personality but her abilities are the real deal. This is where I would have liked another chapter or two though because the final fight ends up being a little rushed due to the length. In the span of 10 pages the heroes have to try and land their first blow on her and then the series ends. Not a lot of time for a real fight considering how powerful she was right?

The artwork is nice and retro. This looks like a very old time manga and it does adapt the video game designs well. At times the action can be a little hard to follow along so I think the manga could have been clearer there. It’s still good but it’s what keeps the good art from being very good. This would lose to a lot of modern titles for example but it’s solid enough where I wouldn’t call it bad. You’ll be able to blast through the chapters either way. The series has a little fanservice like with the obligatory river washing and Deis messing with Ryu but for the most part there’s not much here. It feels more like the series was ticking off a box than they were trying to add a lot of this. I’d argue that’s a box you don’t need to tick off since the scenes don’t add anything but they’re minor enough where they don’t bring the series down.

The story has good vibes to it and stays upbeat for the most part. There are a lot of tragedies as each character has a sob story but there is no time to really dwell on it. Even the characters are quickly back to having fun as they travel the distance. I’d say the manga does a good job of showing just what an adventure would feel like and how the characters adapt to it. It’s fairly low key even with the world at stake which helps on the retro feel.

I still say that the manga should have been longer but ultimately that’s not something that would shave a star off of the final product. It just means that this will probably encourage you to play the video game to really get the full experience. That’s my recommendation here as well, if you like the manga then definitely play the game. You get the bullet points here and all of the big story moments but it’s just not the same compared to a 20-30 hour experience on the game version. You get more time for the twists and character development there.

Overall, Breath of Fire is a solid title. It’s a very quick read at only 6 chapters long. It’s ultimately 2 volumes long as a result but they would feel like fairly short volumes to me. At least you could also say this speaks to the quality of the series as you will have no problem binging it all the way through. It’s what I’d consider to be a fairly safe pick. It’s not really going for any outlandish twists or bold story choices. This is a traditional adventure with fun characters and really plays out exactly how you would expect it to. So it’s a fun story that should appeal to most without trying to test the waters. I’ll be checking out the Breath of Fire 2 adaption soon and we’ll see how that one stacks up. I’d say I’ve got pretty good hopes on that one as well. Should be a solid adventure too.

Overall 7/10

Ayashimon Review


Whenever a series gets cancelled you feel a little bad because it could have kept going and become the next Naruto. A series that everyone respects as one of the all time greats. I know that’s what I was thinking the whole time for many titles since if you ask me, a series that it good should just continue forever. Never end the series unless it’s actually bad. Now, this one may not have been super amazing or anything like that but it was pretty good and definitely should have lasted longer.

The series starts by explaining that the demons used to all be ruled by a single man named Kioh. He was a strong monster who kept everyone in check and under his rule things just worked out. Unfortunately he died under mysterious causes and so the group descended into a bunch of small gangs. In particular there are now 4 gangs that rule the world and they are all striving for power. We are then introduced to the main character Maruo.

Maruo is really obsessed with Shonen Jump and has read all of the big titles. He lives his life like he’s a protagonist and is bored because everyone’s too weak. That’s when he bumps into a girl named Urara who is being chased by a bunch of demonic yakuza. Maruo beats them up and decides to serve her as a Yakuza member. She is the daughter of Kioh and intends to destroy all of the demons and become the top family again. Maruo will help to the best of his ability because he really wants to get some good fights. Can he pull this off or is it game over?

So lets start off with some of the good parts here. The series has solid action. I enjoyed the action scenes here and the series has good art from the start. Usually you’d expect it to be a little rough around the edges but it holds up from the jump. At worst I would say some of the designs may not be all that memorable but you won’t have any trouble reading what’s happening in the scenes. It all just flows together really well.

I also thought the character cast was good. Perhaps a bit small but I think this would have ended up being a solid team. The manga moves rather quickly and it’s already getting a little high tier with the feats. There’s a lot to like here and while the manga delves into some darker subject matter, I wouldn’t say it goes too far. The idea of uniting all of the Yakuza gangs is also a classic. Just replace “Yakuza” with almost anything and you’ll see that it’s a classic kind of plot. Maruo and his friends need to be the best and it’s a tested formula.

So what happened, why did this series get cancelled? Well, I do think some of the world building elements may have been a little too much too soon. For example we learn about different kinds of ghosts here and how they can only stay alive through coins and belief. It’s hard to say which is more important but we know for a fact that demons turn into coins when they’re destroyed. The others can then use that to strengthen themselves. Belief somehow helps keep you tangible as well but it’s hard to say if this turns into more coins or not.

Otherwise, how does it help when you’re made of coins? The series goes on to show that demons exist in another realm and the coins help them get a physical form. That’s a little odd to buy into though, what is this other realm and are they always just floating around but invisible and intangible? As you can see, you can make sense of this whole thing if you make some assumptions and connect the dots but the series overcomplicates the issue a bit too much.

Especially because it’s honestly not that important. Just say that yokai are made out of money and when they die other demons use the money to get stronger. Boom, you’ve still got everything you need without big info dumps. Especially when a series is new you don’t have time to be throwing info at people like that. Still not a big enough issue for the series to have been cancelled though.

I suppose Maruo’s backstory was a bit grim with his having an abusive father and all but main characters have had worse. I was really surprised by this but it’s handled fairly well. It explains why Maruo got into manga and how he trained to become so strong. Usually you have the heroes training to fight some end of the world boss or something but here it was just so that he wouldn’t get absolutely crushed day in and day out. It was a pretty interesting change of pace there.

As a main character Maruo may not stand out a whole lot but he’s a good kid. He likes to fight and is always trying to get stronger. That’s already the most important step for a main character so he’s off to a very good start there. He may be a little too one note in how obsessed he is with Jump but I’m cool with it. You have to establish character traits early so I can see why he is this obsessed. I think it would calm down a bit as the series goes on. His physical strength was impressive and I always like a brawler fighting style.

Maruo is a loyal guy and doesn’t give up easy so I’ll always remember him as a pretty solid character. Then you have the heroine Urara who is good. She has mixed feelings about exactly why she wants to be at the top. In part it’s because she wants to bring honor back to the family name and in another way it’s also because she wants to find out the truth about what happened to her father. I’m sure there would ultimately be tons of twists about her father had the series kept going. Still, she did her best and tried to follow the rules the whole time. Things just didn’t work out for her.

She ultimately becomes a good character once she decides that her friends take priority over the revenge. At that point she was really making all of the right decisions and goes from being a shady boss to one who has found her priorities. Hopefully she’ll get a longer time limit on her super form eventually though because only being able to use it for a few minutes is pretty iffy. It would also be nice if she could fight at least a bit in base considering how powerful her father was. Perhaps as the series went on she would have gotten stronger.

So the first story arc has the heroes decide to find a weak gang to beat up so they can have a base of operations. They run into a demon named Ten who gladly invites them over to take out his mean boss. Maruo pulls this off easily enough and it works well as an introduction to show how strong he could be for a human. The series does give an explanation for this like every few thousand years a human is born with incredible power. I almost feel like you didn’t need an explanation for this but I suppose it’s better than nothing so that is still fine.

The villains here are mainly one shots aside from Ten who actually joins the team. I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with the guy though. He’s your classic coward type character who is afraid of everyone and can’t fight. That’s definitely not the kind of guy that you want to have on your squad. He gets one fight before the series ends and the whole thing is really cheesy. Ultimately he wouldn’t have done much to help the dynamic if the series had kept going on.

Then we get to the first big arc which introduces us to the leader of the strongest gang, Doppo. Doppo kidnaps Urara’s informant Hashihime and it’s clear that he plans to take her out for the count. She was a bit of a double agent which is always a super risky job. Maruo figures he can take this guy down since Shonen Jump heroes never lose. It’s a good way to show off one of the end game threats of the series and to have Maruo lose. The action was good and everything but I just had one big issue here.

You immediately realize that what will give Maruo some pep back in his step is that he’ll remember how leads can lose the first fight but then will win the rematch. The reason the plot is too contrived here is because Maruo was already established as a complete manga expert. There’s no way he would somehow forget that the heroes lose from time to time. DBZ is one of the series that he said he read and Goku lost his share of fights. So the author could and should have handled that part a lot better.

Hashihime was a really solid character and I definitely missed her once she was gone. She could fight and did rather well in combat. At the end of the day that’s just not enough when you’re up against Doppo’s group. Her flame powers were fun while they lasted. Then you have Doppo as the big leader of his group and that guy was a solid villain. He is one of those quirky types who likes his artwork and making sure his victims don’t die easily.

He explains that this was actually difficult because of course in this world the demons will die naturally without money and if they recover too well it could be dangerous. Well, his idea is to let them partially regenerate and turns them into piggy banks which forces them to stay alive. The whole thing was very clever on his part. It’s good that they’re made out of coins though or the scene could have been a little too grisly. Either way it is rather disturbing for anyone who gets captured by him. You do not want that to happen.

Doppo’s power is able to suck fire out of anything or anyone which is interesting. I haven’t quite seen a power like that before and I thought it worked really well. It helps the ability really stand out next to the others. A normal ice ability wouldn’t have stood out as much. I may not be the biggest fan of the guy but he certainly lives up to the hype with how powerful he is. Even by the end of the series he isn’t taken out.

Next up is more of a small arc as the heroes realize they need to get much stronger while also increasing the fights at their disposal. The best option is to form a truce with the biker gang. Naturally this ultimately leads to a clash between their leader Kotton and Maruo. Kotton reminds me of an Accel World type character with how he zooms all over the place. He’s incredibly fast, maybe too fast as it’s hard to see Maruo fighting with him at all. Sure, Maruo is getting wrecked for most of the fight but maybe it should have been for the whole fight. The water weakness was convenient against Kotton but he should still be too fast to fall for any traps.

It could have been worse as the author at least tries to cover the bases but that’s always an issue with speed types and I think it would have continued on even further here if it had kept going. I liked Kotton as a character though and now he’s a guy who could really add onto the dynamic. He likes a good fight and is all about friendship and protecting his men. He’s the kind of leader you want to have on your side.

Finally we enter the last arc where Urara is kidnapped at a hotel by Tamagawa, another one of the leaders. His ability is to shapeshift and he even gains that person’s powers. It’s a solid ability with the only downfall being that if he stays in the shape for too long then he can’t transform back. That’s certainly a risk here but one that is likely worth the extraordinary powers that he gets. This guy is one of those by the books fighters who doesn’t like to live on the edge. He’ll take the safe option every time.

He didn’t really stand out to me even though he did make for a very solid boss. He’s more of an obstacle than a big character. This worked as a preview to the final boss with Doppo though as the guy turned into him. Since the author likely knew the series was ending at this point, it makes sense why he would have the guy turn into Doppo. If the series did end then at least Maruo got his revenge in a sense.

At 25 chapters long the series escaped the U-19 club but ultimately it still didn’t last a very long amount of time. It feels like you have the series wrapped up in an instant. As you can tell I had a good time with it. Sure, it may not have broken out on its own as some kind of elite or really stood out a ton but ultimately it got a lot more things right than wrong. Each chapter was fast paced and the story was engaging.

The story also had a good amount of humor which worked well. Maruo constantly talking about beating people up or using his special attacks was always entertaining. The series was even going for almost a One Punch Man kind of vibe with Maruo one hitting everyone for a bit but it branched out early on so I wouldn’t say that it was trying to rip that off. In general I thought the power escalation was handled well. Maruo faced off with his first real challenge right away but won enough fights where his hype was warranted. That’s a good way to go here and of course the series had its emotional moments as well. I think you could easily retool this into a one-shot movie since the series didn’t keep going.

Occasionally it would have some tonal clashes like the heroes having a comic relief, slapstick fight against the villains in the hotel but for the most part it was relatively serious. The action was good and I do think the author was working hard to get in a solid main cast. I always have a section on what the series could have done differently to avoid getting cancelled and I listed them earlier, but I do think the author tried really hard. I’m a bit surprised that it didn’t go further. The series didn’t really have any fanservice and it seemed primed for big things.

Overall, It’s a shame that Ayashimon ended but I suppose they can’t all be winners. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a solid action manga. Maruo was getting stronger and stronger so it would have been nice to see what heights he could have reached. Perhaps a sequel will be out someday but I’m always super skeptical. It is a longshot after all but never rule it out. This is at least one series that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, especially with how bold it was to have characters like Goku and Joestar actually appearing in Maruo’s head.

Overall 7/10

Breath of Fire II Review


I was really satisfied with the first Breath of Fire and I can safely say that this one is a really good sequel as well. I wouldn’t quite say that it beats the first as it loses out on at least one big quality of life feature but it’s still a really solid game all around. To compensate for that it does have the better story here. Either way if you like RPGs then you will definitely like this game.

It actually starts off with some Undertale type vibes as the main character and his pal enter a dark cave and things get rather trippy. You have an evil eye that it always running around, a giant monster that murders them, and things like that happen. Finally, a few years pass by and Tery’s (That’s what I called the lead) best friend Bow decided to become a bit of a thief. He is going to help this one guy who was already stolen from so in a way it’s like payback but it backfires and now everybody thinks he is a thief. Tery must quickly come to his aid and prove Bow’s innocence. Additionally Tery must find out why nobody remembers him and why his whole family is gone. Does it have something to do with the main villain?

There are a ton of monsters in this world so naturally it is not quite the kind of place that you want to be when things get tough. Tery got to meet one of the more powerful creatures in the tutorial after all even if he isn’t sure whether it was a dream or not. There’s this whole emotional system too where talking to people will light up or darken your crystal but there didn’t seem to be much of a point to it. Perhaps it alters your ending but I would have liked it to have made a bigger difference throughout the game. I appreciated how the game would get rather spooky at some points but ultimately it’s more for show than anything else.

The game is fairly long and you can certainly expect to take many hours to conquer it. Unfortunately the game doesn’t track your play time but it has to at least be 25-30+ hours. There’s a whole lot to do here, villages to help and party members to recruit. Additionally there is no easy way to bypass minions. So in the first game you could buy an item that stopped them from appearing for about a minute or so. I would stock up on as many of those as possible and it was a great deal but that’s not the case here. There is an item that (barely) reduces how often they spawn but it can’t prevent it.

Half the time it feels like the item didn’t do anything to be honest so it was a bit of a waste. It’s too bad they didn’t bring the item from the first game back because it’s just so much more peaceful when you’re able to run around and don’t have to worry about minions attacking. You can explore to get treasure and all kinds of things like that. Trying to run is usually not going to work so you have to keep rewinding until it does or you could just fight every minion in your way.

It is good for grinding I suppose. Speaking of which, be prepared to grind a whole lot here because the final bosses suddenly jump up a bunch of levels. They were not playing around but I would expect nothing less from an RPG final boss. Those are the kind of opponents that you want to go all out. Show us why you are the demon king or whoever the final boss is. The final battles are really an endurance test so buy as many potions, revives, and MP items as possible. I had over 100 items when you add in the amounts for each and I still barely made it. That was definitely not easy in the slightest.

The game’s ending isn’t super satisfying though. You can’t help but feel that Tery made the wrong choice unless there is some kind of true ending here. He overthought things but it did work as an intense twist of sorts. The game always has that uneasy feeling thanks to the prologue which shows just how effective it was even if the rest of the game plays it straight for the most part. The story is really engaging so you should be having a blast from start to finish. Tery’s companions were definitely really good as well and if anything the toughest part is deciding who to keep home.

Each ally has their own special ability which you’ll need on the hub world. One can fly, one can swim, one can jump, etc. So there will be times when you have to switch companions and you just can’t worry about it. Additionally some characters have a 1 on 1 story fight that can’t be skipped so if they are at a low level then that’s game over. You obtain shamans to power up your fighters but one if missable which can be disappointing if you didn’t get him. So if you see a chance to donate some money later in the game, make sure you click donate 20 times. If you don’t do that then you won’t get him at the end.

That’s really my main tips here, you should be able to get through the game with no real issues. The graphics are real good here and some aspects of the game have aged extremely well with the visual style. For example there’s one boss fight where you’re falling off a tower and then there’s a scene where Tery is running through the flames. You don’t see a whole lot of cutscenes using the sprites like this outside of combat so I thought that was pretty cool. The soundtrack is also good although as far as RPGs go I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton.

This is the kind of game that just freezes once you beat it so that means there is no replay value. Fortunately the main campaign is so long that this really is not an issue in the slightest. You’ll get to have your full barrel of fun here. The cast is fairly solid and of course Tery steals the show even if he’s the silent kind of protagonist so you won’t really see him talk here. You just know that he has what it takes to win.

Overall, Breath of Fire II is a great follow up to the original. I would probably still learn towards the first game as a whole even though this one had the better story. Breath of Fire is certainly one of those games that could do well with a modern sequel or remake. After all stories about dragons are always cool and this one has plenty of them. It’s a very challenging game so you do need to keep your guard up but then making it to the ending is that much more satisfying.

Overall 8/10

Megaman ZX Advent Review


This is one of those manga titles that is just so tragic on every level. It’s got solid art and it’s based on a game that should be a lot of fun. Just give me a straight to business manga where the heroes are fighting off the mavericks. It’s not that complicated…and yet the series goes straight to being a gag manga like the Zero title. It only gets serious for the final two chapters and of course by then it’s over anyway so there’s not even much of a point by then. It’s a true shame….feels bad man. Feels….baddddddddd.

So the manga starts with Ashe on one of her treasure hunts when she bumps into a little kid named Grey. He has the ability to bio merge with the model robots that are nearby and so he can become Megaman. Ashe figures that will be handy in her hunts and so she recruits him to the team. Grey is happy to help since he just loves to mess around. Their mission is officially to grab Model Ws which can be used to help resolve the energy shortage on the planet but Ashe just wants to be rich so that’s her main priority. Will she be able to get rich in 10 chapters?

Every chapter has a different maverick show up to cause some trouble and take names. The heroes pack them up and go on their way. The chapters are fairly short so it’s easy to go along with the formula approach but it’s just not a great formula. So you’ve got Ashe, Grey and Model A running around all the time. Model A’s whole character is that he’s a perv and that’s even how he is introduced in each chapter’s cover page. Man that’s a sad reputation to have. The manga seems aimed fairly young so at least his antics don’t get too crazy but he still tries to cop a feel and such which is just disgraceful for a Mega Man character.

Model A is just awful the whole time. Then I don’t get why this series decided to not have Ashe be a fighter. Basically she can’t fight at all and I don’t know what she would have been doing before Grey showed up. Evidently she’s been in the group for a while so did her hand gun actually prove to be all that she needed? This is even worse when we find out in the very last chapter that she also has the ability to merge into Mega Man but didn’t realize that because she always had to keep her distance from Model A since he was so suspect.

I don’t blame her for not wanting to merge with him but it’s all just such a forced way to keep her out of the battlefield. If you were going to make her a noncombatant anyway then just don’t even put her in that arena. Have her stay as a support/treasure hunter right through to the end. Otherwise it’s just a tease the whole time. Even with that she still manages to be the best out of the trio.

For Grey, he’s just too young. The kid is always messing around and never gets serious. I suspect that he really doesn’t even understand the true gravity of the stakes right now. Not like there’s much danger since he can dominate any opponent anyway but they should have made him a little older. That would have done a world of good for the character if you ask me.

Aside from the main 3, you have the robot for each chapter but of course they’re dead almost as soon as they appear so they don’t get a lot of character. For example Buckfire is up first and before he can sizzle the characters then he is vanquished. The water type is blown up before she can even be introduced. Rospark at least gets to have her main trait as a flirt but is still taken out without mercy. The most tragic one might be Vulturon because the poor guy was just trying to play his music but he was doing better than Ashe so she declared that he had to die.

The scene is played as a gag as they murder the poor guy but when you actually think about it, he hadn’t really done anything wrong yet. Sure, as a maverick he probably would have done something soon and in most games the villains are basically shoot on sight but with how the robot reacted you couldn’t help but feel bad for him. He really didn’t think he had done anything to deserve being completely destroyed and I can’t really argue against that.

Albert was the big villain in the game so you’re probably waiting for him to turn evil here but that barely happens. He’s the comic relief scientist for most of the chapters as he tries to use the W energy for good each time but it tends to backfire in his face. He has Ashe and Grey babysit his kids at one point as well. The only time they get to fight him is when the W energy takes him over and they beat him up real fast. Then he’s back to being comic relief again. Such is the fate of Albert in this continuity.

Interestingly in the final 2 chapters it’s like a whole completely different series just like with Megaman Zero. Suddenly Albert is evil and shady and there is a whole new group of villains. You have Prometheus and Pandora talking about how the great Megaman war is approaching as all the Megaman are gathering across the planet. We see characters like Vent and Aile, Omega, the 4 guardians from the Zero games, Grey and Ashe, and someone who looks like Copy X all show up. It’s a great premise for a series that’ll never come out.

Why have all the cool things at the very end when it won’t amount to anything? It always reminds me of what a wasted opportunity this would have been. There’s so much cool potential that you can do with this instead of the actual gag manga that we got. I suppose I’m glad that these two final chapters were added in at the end but this is really the tone and feel that the whole series should have had. It would have been so cool and I want to see those characters mix it up. There’s a lot of great lore here.

Another thing that holds the series back is that it’s not very funny. I can’t say I’m surprised as comedic manga tend to be funnier when they aren’t the gag types. Gag manga tend to rely more on crude humor and everyone being super exaggerated instead of acting like real characters. That’s what holds them back here. The crude humor isn’t excessive at least, it’s probably just a scene or two but the main humor like Grey having to mimic animals to transform just doesn’t land. You probably won’t crack a smile here.

The art being strong is definitely the best point of the series. That’s at least something that you can point to if you want something really good to say about the series. There just isn’t much of a sense of purpose to this title and since I liked the original ZX a lot, this felt like a real step down. As always I’m glad for more Megaman content but I’m not sure why the Zero and Zero related titles tend to become gag titles. Doesn’t feel like that would be the first thing you think of when it comes to Zero right?

Again I have to point to the final 2 chapters on what you’d want to see in a Megaman title like this. A Megaman war would be unbelievably awesome. Even if you don’t go and grab some of the ones from alternate timelines like EXE or Starforce, there is still a lot to love here. My money would be on Omega and Vent as the top big dogs in the arena for sure. They should be able to soundly crush all of the other Megas in attendance but the fights would all be awesome nonetheless. You shouldn’t waste someone who is really good at drawing action scenes on a series without much action.

Overall, Megaman ZX Advent is a series that you’ll probably finish very quickly. After all 10 chapters goes by in the blink of an eye especially when they’re short like this. It’s not good but if you really want to see some more Megaman action then you may as well go with it. At least if they ever do decide to bring this one back and adapt the Megaman war then you’ll have some context for it. That’s definitely the best case scenario by a mile and is the optimal way to think about it even if that’s a super long shot. It’s more likely to hope for an X Dive manga which would be pretty awesome to be fair.

Overall 5/10

Punisher: War Zone Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

It’s time for the return of the Punisher but this one isn’t quite able to match the first one. It goes all in with making the Punisher a rather imposing figure who takes down everyone in his way but along the way it forgot the charm of the series and doesn’t focus as much on how he helps people on a local level. This film is one you’ll ultimately want to end up skipping.

The movie starts with Punisher taking down a group of villains as he always does but this time he ends up taking out an FBI agent as well. The guy was undercover so Punisher figured that he was one of the villains but that was not the case. Now he feels like he should retire out of guilt but his partner Microchip convinces him not to do that. At the very least he tells the Punisher that he needs to finish the job by taking out Jigsaw first since that villain ended up surviving. Punisher agrees so he’s back on the streets to murder the villains but will he really be able to take out Jigsaw and his brother Jim?

The interesting part about the movie is that it would be over before it began if this version of the Punisher wasn’t so sadistic. Usually the Punisher goes around just shooting everyone as a quick death. He dishes out the punishment which is lethal for these villains and that’s the end of it. Only this time instead of doing that he tossed Jigsaw into a machine that crushes glass so it would slowly shred the guy to bits. Usually that would work but not in this case. The Punisher just seemed to be enjoying the show a bit too much here as he was even watching until some other villains attacked and he had to deal with them.

It’s clear that in this version the Punisher really enjoys his work to the point where he goes all in on this. You’d almost think he was a super villain as well with some of the scenes here. There’s another moment where he beats one guy up, then tosses him to the ground where he is impaled by spikes, then he breaks the guy’s neck/slashes it with a final fall. It’s all so extra and unnecessary that when the Punisher lands you could easily photoshop him with Michael Myers or someone like that and nobody would bat an eye. That would absolutely be a villain’s intro.

Now, I would always argue that the Punisher is a villain in all continuities. He murders all of his opponents and while they are villains, it’s still murder. Characters like the Punisher are always interesting as a what if since you can imagine this to be how things would go if Batman or another hero would murder their opponents. Ultimately it may result in safer streets and probably does but the cost is too high. So while it’s an interesting idea, we’ve still got to keep in perspective that if the heroes were here they would have a duty to take him down.

At least what still makes Punisher a decent character is he does have an honor code and doesn’t go after innocents or anything like that. When you see him just taking out the villains it’s fun enough but anytime you have to resort to torture or really taking it to the villains then it can be a bit too extreme. For that reason I much preferred the Punisher as portrayed in the earlier film. He seemed to have a lot more of his humanity and he was still punishing his opponents but very somberly and without getting into it.

Now if the Punisher’s scenes are that violent, you’re probably wondering what the villains do. Well, they don’t hold back either and you have people being eaten and ripped apart. The film’s absolutely as edgy as you would expect and it’s all really over the top. It’s the level of violence that would doom any film right out of the gate. You’ve got to have some restraint with scenes like this. Establish that the villains are evil and we don’t really need to see the rest. It would have made the film a whole lot better.

There’s no real reason to like Jigsaw as a villain. The guy is your classic mobster who wants a shot at greatness and will do anything for it. He betrays allies and just keeps on moving up. The guy is rather insane although you would expect most villains at his level to be insane since they probably crack on the way up. His design after getting torn up is certainly gruesome.

Then his brother Jim is even worse. That guy is completely off the walls and even talks like he’s looney. The scene of him being a cannibal is disturbing and you know that ultimately he won’t be taking the Punisher down. This guy is good against people who won’t fight back but a gun will take him down like all the rest. It’s not like any of these villains are bullet timers after all.

Paul is the main FBI agent trying to take the Punisher down. You can see why he’s so frustrated since the local cops all seem to support the Punisher and even the guy at the head of the taskforce isn’t particularly cooperative. The reason for this is fairly clear as everyone is rooting for the villains to be taken down. The city seems extremely corrupt so they’re probably tired of every villain just getting in and out of jail. This makes Paul’s job of avenging his comrade a lot tougher.

Paul’s a good character though and one of the few that you can root for all the way through. He does tend to get in the Punisher’s way but it’s very understandable from his perspective. Then you have Microchip who is a good partner to the Punisher. He knows exactly how to make that guy tick and what sets him off. You need someone like that to have your back and get the ammo ready. Punisher wouldn’t be able to function nearly as efficiently without him. The guy should probably carry more guns with him though so that he isn’t picked off.

While the movie is mainly devoid of humor, there is one scene that was pretty fun. You’ve got 3 athletic villains who are running and jumping across the roof while a really fast paced happy song is playing in the background. You can see how it’s all going very well for the villains but suddenly one of them explodes and we cut to Punisher with his cannon. That was the best scene in the movie by far. It works in showing that the Punisher is absolutely not playing around here and also in how fast the tone changes. It instantly goes from being a happy moment to a really intense one. The scene also helped to enhance the film’s overall soundtrack since the music there was really good.

Overall, Punisher: War Zone will definitely remain in the shadow of the first one. It just doesn’t really improve on much while falling below on a lot of areas. I would say the only area where this one wins is in showing the Punisher off as more of an unstoppable force. You can see why the whole city fears him and one scene shows how he has already taken down hundreds and hundreds of opponents. That was a great moment without a doubt. The film just can’t get away from its tendencies to make every scene as violent as possible. Show don’t tell is a rule that it takes too literally and that can often be what takes a film down for the count.

Overall 2/10

Dredd Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Judge Dredd has returned for another film outing. The first film was rather solid and had a good blend of action and excitement. This one doubles down on how corrupt the city is which makes sense on why the Dredds are around. It unfortunately focuses a little too much on the tragedies as opposed to Dredd making the world a better place and ultimately falters due to its own violence but at least you do get a hype soundtrack here and some memorable action scenes.

The film starts off with Dredd taking out some more delinquents and then his boss says that he will have to evaluate a new cadet. Dredd isn’t thrilled about that because historically he’s been a solo act but this is how it has to be this time. The new recruit is Cassandra and she is a telepath which is definitely handy to have in the field but Dredd still feels like she might not be ready for the level of danger in this job. He intends to be a harsh but fair mentor but what should have been a routine bust ends up being a whole situation as Ma-Ma takes over the building and locks it down. She is the head of the ultimate gang that runs this show and says that Dredd must die. He and Cassandra must try to stay alive while also keeping their prisoner Kay alive so he can be tried and brought to justice.

With the heroes locked in that does make for a rather tense setting in the building. I also thought there was a good amount of variety as the heroes go through the floors so it never felt confined. This is a really big building after all so that never became an issue. The visuals are solid here with a lot to look at and Dredd’s uniform definitely appears to be very faithful to the comic. I wouldn’t have any complaints there. It also ties in well with the really good rock music that plays throughout the film. It helps to get you in the zone and it makes the film as a whole a lot more exciting too. A good soundtrack goes a long way.

Dredd also makes for a very solid main character. He doesn’t let his emotions get in the way and tends to be a very pragmatic character who wants to take in his opponents alive but if they shoot first then he has to respond. Often times they are dealing with hardened murderers here so Dredd and Cassandra just have to open fire when they’re being attacked. Given the context of the world at large and the situation they’re in, it makes sense why they can’t all be jailed. In this world attacking a Judge is also a really serious offense.

The criminal system here is definitely interesting and I’d like to see that go into more depth someday. Regardless, Dredd lives up to his hype of being the most dangerous Dredd around. He overcomes a significant disadvantage in numbers and makes it all look easy. Not to say that he’s unbeatable though and he has to deal with real issues like running out of ammo but he always chooses the optimal path in tough situations.

Then we have Cassandra who does really well too. Her mind reading ability comes in handy several times. I was glad it helped her dodge a pretty big trick by the villains in pretending to be an ally at one point and it also gave her the edge over Kay. When you’re a telepath you should absolutely be able to crush anyone trying to beat you in the mind space and that’s exactly what happened here. If it had been close at all then that would have been disappointing. An expert just shouldn’t lose to a novice.

Cassandra’s abilities also put her in a unique position to really know who is a victim and who is an attacker. She’s more emotional and lenient than Dredd as well which can be an asset or a liability depending on the circumstance. Either way she would definitely make for a very good judge and they would be lucky to have her on the team. There aren’t any other heroes in the film with a notable role so Dredd and Cassandra have to be able to rely on each other when the going gets tough. If either one of them was not prepared for this then it would not have gone over well.

The main villain Ma-Ma was not all that good though. I appreciate that she had a plan for everything at least. No matter what the heroes did she would reveal another tactic or technique to even the field. Right up to the end it felt like she had everything under control and it took a really crafty idea to take her down. I can appreciate the grit it took to rise to the top and all but ultimately she’s quite psychotic and her grand goals don’t amount to much more than wanting to be at the top. If she could fight more personally that would have helped her.

She’s considerably better than Kay though. They’re both rather demented and I don’t think for a second that she would hesitate to do any of the stuff that Kay did, but he was around more so in a way we got to really see how depraved he was. The guy was annoying throughout the film and in a way he’s lucky that he wasn’t shot dead with a lot of the other villains. If Cassandra could have said she was 100% positive he may have been axed out near the very beginning.

So the Dredd movie has a lot of nonstop action and I love the premise of being stuck in a building filled with enemies and no way out. That part’s good but the film just ends up suffering due to how over the top violent it is. In a lot of ways I think the movie was trying to really show that it was different than the original. The original was more comedic and had a lot of light hearted moments so this one probably wanted to show how dark the city of Dredd’s is. It does make sense that it would be bad out there since the point is that the world’s really gotten as bad as possible but even then you can do that without all of the details.

The people who die are basically cut up and die in really vicious ways. You have the whole mental battle with Kay and Cassandra which immediately goes for the gritty/nasty kind of visions for them. They both play dirty in order to get the win at the audience’s expense. Then even the gun fights could be handled in more of a stylized way. You definitely don’t need the full explosion for every shot. There are plenty of action films with gun fights where you know the hit connected and the guy goes down but it’s not a huge splatter. It’s not as big a deal as the other elements since they are at least combatants but you could tell it’s the film trying hard.

I also thought the slow-mo was way overdone here. I went in a full circle with that because at first I was rolling my eyes at this, then they showed that it was a part of the plot. So I thought, all right…they showed this so we could understand the drug. But then it kept on happening over and over again so it went all the way around the world back into being excessive again. At that point it just became a negative. Slow motion shots can be cool, a lot of action films use this to great effect but there needs to be a purpose. A cool background effect, a nice scene, a great pose, etc. Not just someone smoking their drugs as we see it in slow-mo. It was just annoying more than anything. At least it did nullify one scene that I thought was going to be a fanservice moment but it turned out that this was not the case. Slow-mo has its use there at least although you could just say that the scene was filmed well because slow-mo could also backfire in that kind of way.

Overall, Dredd is a very intense action film. I can see the appeal as it’s basically the Punisher in a really rough environment who doesn’t need to take any prisoners. In this case he’s even government sanctioned so it’s not like he is defying the law to do it. I’d say you can do this without making the film be so over the top though. It takes away from the scenes that are pretty cool like when the other Judges showed up. That was really interesting. This film in a lot of ways is like Resident Evil. It’s a very interesting film but also tragic in the sense that you can see how this could have been great if it could have just held back a lot.

Overall 2/10

Fairy Tail: Happy’s Heroic Adventure Review


Fairy Tail is one of those franchises that is very interesting because it has extremely high highs but suffers from never ending fanservice that always drops it way down. This spinoff is no different. Well, I wouldn’t say the highs are that amazing but in a lot of ways it looks rather solid. The fights are great, the art is top notch, and the story is interesting. Towards the end it starts to sputter a bit but it’s never able to truly achieve greatness because the fanservice sticks around. Yes, even without Lucy and the gang this keeps up for the animals…ah well Fairy Tail will be Fairy Tail I suppose.

The series starts with Happy being warped away from his normal world over to animal village. He’s not exactly sure why this happened or how but now they are saying he is the hero of legend who is here to save them all. Happy is more interested in going home but the only way to do that is to perform a lot of good deeds. This will fill up the smile heart that he has to wear and once it is filled up, then a miracle will occur which will take him home. Sounds easy enough right?

Happy is a nice guy for the most part even if he’s not super heroic. So for example if he sees a crime in front of him then he’ll definitely jump in. Happy isn’t about to let something like that slide. At the same time he still just wants to go home above all else so it’s not like he’ll stay to fulfill the prophecy first if he has a choice. Ultimately Happy doesn’t really have a say in the matter though as completing all of the tasks will take a while. There is a lot to do in this world that’s for sure.

The pre arc introduces us to some of the characters in the village and Happy starts to win over everyone’s trust. It isn’t particularly difficult since he is able to fly and is physically strong enough to help everyone out. I wouldn’t say that he is the strongest character around but he can hold his own with the heavyweights since the characters aren’t all that powerful here. The introduction is sound and all as we gear up for the first big arc.

At first you may have expected this to be more of an adventure title without a whole lot of action but that quickly changes as the series goes on. It transitions into a complete action story which I thought was an excellent move. You get dynamic fights with a lot of characters who have different skillsets. The art is top notch as I mentioned earlier and the story is sound. The chapters really breeze through too so you can definitely fast blast through the series.

On the negative side, yes the fanservice is as bad as you would expect. It’s crazy how even with no human characters in the series for most of the arcs, the series still manages to include a lot of fanservice like this. You have one character constantly flirting with Happy and while he doesn’t react to it at all, it still gets crammed into the series a whole lot. If you take this away then the series would be a lot better without a doubt.

The final arc involving time travel also gets a little dark. Keep in mind that these are all animals running around here. They are evolved versions that can talk and walk so they get a bit more humanoid but we find out about a farm that basically forces the animals to fight and get slaughtered in vicious war games. It’s possible that they all survive since Fairy Tail tends to spare them at the end but they certainly go through quite the ordeal and it’s hard to say if they actually did make it completely intact. I think for a series like Happy this felt rather out of place. You even had characters pretending not to know about it and while they were threatened, it’s awful that they didn’t try harder to stop this whole project. Ultimately this ended up being the weakest arc.

Lets jump into the first arc now though. We are introduced to a group of animals from Wild Town led by Chee who want to rule the village. They don’t believe in friendship and operate in a might makes right kind of mindset. Happy’s group of fighters will have to try and show them the error of their ways but it won’t be easy at all. This was a solid arc with a lot of fights and a really solid villain in Chee. It was the first point where the series really felt like a Shonen title with a lot of good battles. I would even say this was the best arc in the series.

Chee is an emotional villain who has a tough exterior but the whole time you know he’s going to have a big backstory. The fact that he is constantly emitting a poisonous aura that he can’t really control shows just how tough he would have had it. Not being able to approach anyone is hard to deal with no matter how you slice it. Chee ends up becoming a solid supporting character afterwards and someone that Happy can rely on. It’s always good having allies who can really fight.

Then we have Rhino who is one of the more petty villains. Sure, he eventually sees the light but I felt like he went a lot farther than Chee the whole time so it was a bit harder to get on board with his turnaround. The guy was just willing to go so far to claim his win and help the villains that I ended up already not liking him. It’s not bad to really go all out as a villain but you typically need some kind of master plan or honor code. There just wasn’t anything that I found really cool about this guy.

Tigre was a much better character and like Chee she would really get to help out in future fights. Her speed is excellent in combat and she has a lot of confidence. If anything I thought she should have been able to defeat her opponent Eleph but it was a close fight either way so that works out well enough. The villain group as a whole was rather impressive which really helped you take them seriously as a threat in this arc.

I should go back and talk about some of the heroes now though. I already talked about Happy for a bit so we can get past him. Long story short, he’s a good main character and surprisingly a lot better than in the main Fairy Tail series where he could be a bit iffy at times. Ururu is a reoccurring character and one of the main heroines in a way. Happy helps her out when she’s sick and she looks up to him as the legendary hero. Ultimately her role isn’t particularly big since she’s very young and can’t fight so she represents the emotional part of the village. Hamta is in the same boat here as he’s a little hamster kid who looks up to Happy but can’t really fight. He has his big moment where he stays back to fight the villains but that’s really it.

Captain Bull is the police chief who means well but tends to scare Happy a lot. He’s a nice guy though and while he isn’t very strong, he does stand up for what’s right and tends to always show up in the climaxes. Bull just can’t keep up with the power creep. There’s the elder Tortoise and while I would say he’s a non character for most of the series, he suddenly gets a big role near the end. I can’t say I liked him though. To me he makes all of the wrong decisions both in the past and the present. I wouldn’t want him as the leader of my village.

Now we get to Luna who is the real main heroine in a lot of ways. My issue with her aside from being the main fanservice character here is that most of her character is about flirting. She has a tragic backstory and can fight but those elements always fall to the background for her. I think there is a decent character somewhere here but I don’t think she was handled all that well in the series.

Dori Dorin is another character running around who was a villain and then helps out the heroes. That’s a running theme in Fairy Tail as most characters can ultimately be redeemed so long as they are fought with healthy amounts of friendship. He doesn’t leave as much of an impact as the other characters though because he doesn’t fight much once he turns good. One character who was good from the start was Eleph who is a powerful warrior. You can probably tell from the name what kind of creature he is. Eleph is good and even gets a power up before the series finishes.

As someone who was loyal from the start I definitely have to give him extra credit here. Agi was another good fighter here who was always ready to rumble. He had some good combos with Happy and was a great addition to the hero army. He tends to create a lot of misunderstandings with the roundabout way he talks but ultimately he does mean well.

One more villain from the arc was Moppity but I didn’t like him at all. He’s the pervy character of the series and that’s all that you need to know about him. He was completely doomed from the start and whenever the manga tries to make him sympathetic or something it just doesn’t work out. It’s just not going to happen, there’s no way I’m going to buy into that. He just needs to try being a better person and since that’s not going to happen, he was never going to rise up.

There’s a mini arc where Happy shows up to help a girl named Kai against some robots but then we get to the next big arc. Happy is captured by Leon who rules the holy kingdom and is sentenced to death as the devil who will bring ruin to the world. Even Happy’s friends begin to doubt him so this will be a true test of loyalty. Naturally Leon has a powerful group of fighters at the ready for him so we get a lot of action here. I do have to say that I don’t see why anyone had doubts about Happy though. By this point in the series he had already saved them so many times. Even if the prophecies were turned around, you have to believe in your friends right?

It’s not like this kingdom is all that trustworthy either. They showed up and were acting real aggressive right from the jump. At least once the heroes focus up then they are ready for the big battles. Leon himself works well as the big boss. He talks tough and wants true power. It may be a little straight forward but he had more charisma than Rhino. The guy didn’t even need a big backstory here, just the ability to run in and take names. He gets a cool final form and really gives Happy and the other heroes a lot of work in trying to take him down.

One of his big three advisors is Shieshiemon who is really impressive as a villain. The guy is able to fight numerous opponents at once with how his hair can stretch out and even by the end of the arc he looks like he can fight a lot more. The guy was rather naïve in being quick to believe Leon but his fighting abilities can’t be doubted. I thought he was rather solid as a result. Shadow is another good villain who ends up getting some emotional moments. His role isn’t huge or anything but he does a good job with what he’s given.

Needles and Maru are also decent villains but they got more of the shaft compared to the other villains. They have good designs and potential but their fights are over in a flash. Happy means a little animal named Bakkun but he has that annoying gimmick where his nose is always running and he talks like a baby with how he can’t pronounce some of the words. He can read minds to an extent which is handy but the kid’s not too subtle which leads to him being captured. He’s a kid so you can’t expect him to be an expert but I didn’t think he was all that good here.

Finally we enter the final arc where Happy gets to find out the true reason why he is here and goes through his last trial. This arc involves time travel which is always fun and there are a lot of twists here. It is still my least favorite arc but we do get more fights. So Happy heads over to the tower now that he has the hearts and it sends him 1000 years into the past where he gets to meet Marice and the ancestors of all his friends. It turns out that a villain named General Star wants to use her powers for himself so of course that’s something that Happy can’t allow.

One of the big issues with this arc is the ending. Oh man, this is the kind of ending you never want to see because it effectively voids the entire series. It’s not a dream so everything still happened but the ending is the classic copout you do for spinoffs to ensure that it is never mentioned or brought up in the main line. It’s the ultimately copout for me and just hurts the arc. If you ask me they should have played it straight and you could easily handwave questions about why Happy never brought up this place in the main series. He just chose not to, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Then as I mentioned way earlier, the arc just randomly gets to be more on the darker side here. Star ends up torturing a bunch of the animals and even the kid Marice for her power. Everyone is too shellshocked and nervous to do anything about it either. So what you have is a cast that doesn’t look very good here as they overlook Star’s actions. Blackmail can buy some time for the villain for sure, but I’d expect the heroes to have thought of some way to stop him eventually. Instead it felt like they hadn’t done anything on their end.

Ah well, we do get some fights but then there’s also a whole new group of villains that show up when there are only around 5-7 chapters left in the series. Needless to say, they don’t last very long. I liked their designs and everything but there isn’t enough time to really like them. Their names are Cyclops, Unicorn, and Griffin. They are robotic fighters who are super powerful and get a lot of hype. Technically they would have really won and done a whole lot of damage if not for the heroes getting major buffs at the end. Take that away and it would have really been game over.

The 3 were all cool, I just probably won’t remember them after a while. General Star is the only villain with a really big role here and he’s a tough villain but not really my kind of antagonist. For starters he probably could have had a winning strategy if he was nice to Marice instead of tricking her. She would have listened to him if he wanted to use some power since she doesn’t know much about the world. Why not just have her help you like that instead of going through all the trouble of having a conspiracy and all of these different plans? Star ends up overcomplicating the issue which costs him in the end.

Dr Magicana is a lot more reasonable. He’s still not perfect as he’s one of many characters who just overlooks what Star is doing the whole time but at least this guy isn’t quite as insane. You can at least count on him to try and think of some idea to help Marice. Better to help a little than to not do anything right? It’s a start at least and he’s a decent doctor kind of character. He’s just not much of a fighter.

Marice gets to have a big role here. The whole arc is definitely tough on her since she’s a little kid and yet she has to deal with a whole rebellion going on and a would be world conqueror. She grew up in a small area and doesn’t really know anything about the world either so it’s easy to manipulate her. Ultimately she is manipulated for almost the whole saga and tends to go wild so she didn’t end up being very high.

Finally, you have the 3 hearts who were actual characters in the past. It was nice to see them try to help out but I was glad that Happy beat them in the competition. He’s the true hero after all so he’s not about to lose to these guys like that. It’s just not happening. I should mention that this arc throws in some DBZ homages like the introduction to power levels and one character’s power level going over 10,000. It was a small thing but it’s always cool when DBZ is brought into the fray like this.

Overall, That wraps up the Happy adventure. Happy was a surprisingly solid lead so that worked out and the action was good. If you cut out the fanservice then I dare say this would be a pretty good manga but ultimately that held it back just enough to keep this one from breaking even. There’s less time for it at the end of the series but man is it heavy at first. One day Fairy Tail will be able to resist the whole time and that’ll be a great day. I mean I know some of the shorter ones can be fine at times but I’m talking about a decently long adventure like this. I want Fairy Tail to reach its full potential and this is the best way. Of course I’d like to see the actual members appear next time. Happy is cool for the novelty and all but ultimately you want Natsu and the gang to show up and get their action.

Overall 4/10

Dr. Stone Review


Now it’s time to review Dr. Stone, a manga that ended a while back but I hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. It was pretty nice to see this title get successful. It’s fairly outside of the box with the premise and is going for a different feel than the average Jump title. Yes, I still tend to lean towards the fully action packed ones myself but it’s never bad to have a change of pace title. My thoughts are, if a series is good then no matter the genre I want it to go on for as long as possible. That includes everything that’s a 7 or up, for a 6 I suppose so but I’m less invested. Either way this title ends up being above both scores.

The series starts off by introducing us to Senku who is a brilliant worker who isn’t very emotional. In contrast his friend Taiju is always acting very emotionally as he runs off to make confessions and do his thing. Well, one day the Earth is blasted with a powerful ray that turns everyone to stone. All of the characters slumber for thousands of years until Senku finally wakes up due to his incredible mental fortitude. He must now bring humanity back from the Stone Age and find out what happened here. Will he be able to pull this off or is humanity already completely doomed?

Now that’s a very early plot summary of course but no worries I’m going to be diving into the arcs in a minute. Right off the bat I can say that part of what makes the science work is how some of it is actually possible. As the series goes on some parts may be a little tricky or stretch disbelief a bit. I suspect it’s because the manga needed to be wrapped up so things were going fast, but especially in the first half the attention to detail is really great. I even put the series to the test. Yes that’s right, I decided to find out if this was actually real and so I made the Senku Cola.

To this day that was a very memorable moment for me and I had a blast with it. The drink actually did taste really good too and that’s when I really gained respect for the series. The author clearly did his homework and so then you get extra enjoyment out of seeing how it goes since you could make some of the other stuff yourself. I was mildly tempted for the homemade ramen but to me the Cola looked the best either way.

There are some fights here but I do want to stress that the series is more about the journey. Seeing how the characters overcome all of their hurdles without the benefit of high powered technology. I’d say the series does well with that throughout. The characters are fun and it’s just a solid series through and through. I’ll list some issues I had with it down the line but for now lets focus on the main aspects that really worked aside from the science.

One big thing is that the artwork is really solid. This artist really knows how to add a whole lot of extra detail here. It makes for a solid read when you want to really narrow in on a page or set of pages. The backgrounds hold up to the extra scrutiny and the character designs are on point as well. The clashes we get during the fights are also solid. On the flip side, you will rarely see a prolonged fight for that reason as the art style is better suited to powerful stills than a lot of choreography. You will see the rare extended fight but not very often. It does show glimpses of the author being able to draw a long fight if he wanted too though. I think if he made that a focus then it would be done well, this just wasn’t the series for it.

I also give the author credit for having Senku get everyone up to speed so quickly. I do not like stories about cavemen and such. Never have and this series could have easily gone in that way but fortunately with his tech, Senku keeps things civilized right from the jump. Definitely a really good move and even the people who grew up in the village can speak English normally and aren’t just being super quirky the whole time. Characters do have their quirks of course but not the cavemen type.

There are also some solid philosophical debates here with the villains having very different reactions to a world of stone. In a way this is a chance for humanity to reset so some characters like the heroes want to make everything normal again while others want to radically change the world. It never gets into a very gray area as you don’t doubt Senku and the crew but at least the villains do have some solid thought processes behind their actions which makes most of them rather solid. I do think it’s important to have good villains to balance out with the heroes whenever possible.

Now for my main issue, it would be that the final part of the series moves at such breakneck speed that you feel like it misses some opportunities and also that some parts are impossible even for their mastery of science. Building multiple rockets in a super short span of time? We needed some more time skips there. The whole final twist? It wasn’t super satisfying, now there were a lot of theories for this and I liked the future Senku one the most but what we got just didn’t lead to any real big moments. If you do go with this angle for the reason as to why the Earth got turned to stone, then you need to take it further and have a follow up arc. Finally, there’s a moment where we nearly got another huge timeskip of many, many years that ended up being a fake-out. That said, I wasn’t particularly torn up about it since it would have been about a character that I wasn’t a huge fan of. I think it would have been interesting of course but I wouldn’t call that one a bad thing.

Now that we’ve talked about the series on a large scale, lets dial it back and talk about the sagas. First up is the pre arc which involves Senku and his childhood friends being split up so they go with Tsukasa as spies while Senku heads over to Ishigami village to recruit some troops and get started on his transformation into a world of science. This was a good way to introduce a lot of characters and it’s a fun pre arc. Senku gets to show how he fights with science and it was also a really solid way to introduce Tsukasa as a true threat. I definitely would have removed the whole him fighting an animal part though as he already know that he’s tough. No need to stress the point.

As a main character Senku is definitely solid. He’s not going to be joining the top ranks of protagonists anytime soon but he gets the job done and always has a plan. His lack of emotions help him in a lot of ways since he doesn’t panic easily. I like his confident demeanor and he just doesn’t make mistakes. Senku’s a very well rounded character who even learns to lighten up a bit by the end and has some emotional moments like with Tsukasa. He may not change a ton but he doesn’t need to, he was already equipped with good skills from the start.

Then you have Taiju who was also solid. The guy doesn’t get to appear or do as much as you might expect but he’s always a good friend. He did well in standing up to Tsukasa initially and can always be counted on. My main problem with him is that he takes being a pacifist way too far at times. You should absolutely still be able to punch someone in self defense or to protect a friend. He takes his ideals a little too far at the expense of the safety of his crew. Fortunately he is rarely put in a position like that but it is a slight mark against him.

Yuzuriha was sort of the main heroine for about a volume before vanishing and she’s another good character. Like Taiju she ended up vanishing early but made the most of her screentime. She’s a nice person who wants to help out. Ultimately she didn’t get a lot more character than that but she is around so you’re not going to forget her or anything like that. She helps out as needed.

Tsukasa is the first villain to show up and right away I liked the guy. So his goal is very simple, he figures that grown ups are the reason for all of the strife and corruption in the world so he wants to spare only the children and remove everyone else. That means he’ll go around busting up all of the adult statues and then he’ll revive the youth to take over the world. It’s a pretty interesting way to rebuild the planet but you can argue that it just delays the inevitable as they will be adults someday. If humanity is just that corrupt then this strategy won’t work.

His only chance is if he can raise the next generation personally so that they don’t end up twisted but it seems hard to stop that if the adults are that bad. It’s an interesting idea though and why not try to make the world a better place instead of resetting it to how things always were right? It’s just that his methods involve murder which destroys his chances of having a good discussion about it. What would have been interesting is if he decided to instead keep them as stone and made a case to Senku that they shouldn’t revive them yet as they think about what to do. I want to say Senku may have at least heard him out for a while even if ultimately I don’t see them coming to terms on this.

Tsukasa can fight and lead really well though so he was the perfect character to put in as the first major villain. He really has a lot of presence in the story and he’s so powerful that even great plans can end up crumbling in front of him. That’s what it means to wield great power. Back to the village characters though, we get a mini boss in Magma. Eh, the guy never interested me much though. He’s the kind of villain who is fighting for the girl and is super petty all around. Not much to cheer on in that case and he ends up lagging behind.

Kohaku is the character who really takes over the main heroine spot and I enjoyed her character as soon as she went up against Tsukasa in the forest. She had no fear as she charged in and while she ultimately didn’t prove to be a match for him, I respected the courage there. Kohaku was absolutely not going to back down and that’s the right approach here. Always try to go for the win and don’t back down. It’s the best way to go about this. Throughout the series she is really handy whether it be for scouting missions or helping with the inventions. Her excellent eye sight and hand-eye coordination really come in handy.

From all of the village characters she is certainly the best one. Chrome is another villager and his thing is that he’s a scientific mastermind like Senku. Of course he doesn’t have the benefit of formal education like what Senku has but in a way that makes it more impressive that he’s able to keep up. He’s not really my kind of character though. He’s helpful in a pinch but the whole time you just feel like he’s a weaker version of Senku so he doesn’t get to make as much of an impact. He contributes a lot but he just can’t catch up to Senku even if he does mean well.

Finally you have Suika and she is just too young for this. There’s only so much that you can do as a kid and while her watermelon crawl is handy and all…she just never ended up being all that interesting. Kids often just get in the way in Jump titles and while she wasn’t panicking or being taken hostage a lot, I would put her as one of the weakest villagers. She definitely needed to be a little older to really help out.

The village has a high ranking member in Ruri who is good for the info dumps, but she doesn’t ultimately get to do much. Once she is cured from her disease she just sort of fades into the background. She isn’t a fighter so that was probably inevitable though. Someone had to give out the news right? So at least she had that job but ultimately her sister Kohaku ended up being a lot more fun.

Kinro and Ginro are two supporting characters in the village but I never ended up being a big fan of either of them. For Kinro, he is technically a good fighter and he tries to be strict, but often times it’s hard to take him seriously. I feel like he needed to be a little stronger to have really had an effect like that. Meanwhile Ginro is the comic relief character who is scared of everything. Unfortunately he never gets to be endearing so instead he just ends up being annoying the whole time. If I had to pick a comic relief character who was better then I’d go with Kaseki. He really just has one gag that is used on repeat with his whole turning buff thing but at least it’s not a super annoying gimmick or anything like that. I’m not a big fan of the guy but he’s not really around much anyway.

Okay now it’s time for the first big arc of the series which is the famous Stone Wars. Tsukasa and his group make their move so Senku and friends are forced to respond in kind. It’s a great way for the heroes and villains to finally meet up after all of the build up. It certainly lived up to it too with the best climax out of all the arcs. To date this fight has not been passed in the series. It was a great way to wrap up all of the character arcs and aside from the whole finding out why everyone was turned to stone thing, would have even worked as the series ending. It was a lot of fun all the way through and the arc really blasted through at a quick speed. It never dragged on and the whole thing had a very fast paced feel to it.

We got to meet more of the troops during the war as well. First up is Hyoga who is certainly very ambitious and a talented fighter. Next to Tsukasa he was likely the strongest one here and really looked impressive. He makes for a fun villain and while he’s nowhere close to Tsukasa, I liked his fighting style. His weapon certainly does have a long range which is really handy for any fight. His opponents always have to make sure they’re out of range or they’re plum out of luck.

Homura is another fighter on their side and her acrobatics are impressive. She was even able to stalemate with Kohaku for a bit there. Senku looked bad in letting her go at one point but she definitely showed why Tsukasa trusted her with the dangerous recon jobs. At the end of the day she did good. Then you have Ukyo with his super hearing. Not the most loyal fellow to have around but he’s got good aim and is another solid fighter. I wouldn’t say he ranks against the other villains but he’s reasonably good.

We can’t forget Gen the trickster who always has everyone on the ropes…at least for a few arcs. My only gripe with him is that his mentalist abilities don’t tend to help out much later on. In a way his biggest weakness is the fact that he’s well known so nobody believes him anyway or he’s going up against other geniuses who aren’t going to fall for that kind of trick. So either way he ends up being put in a tough position. Gen’s a fun guy though even if he is ineffective a lot of the time. He just needed some kind of power up although I’m not sure how that would work in this context.

Yo is another one of the villains in Tsukasa’s army and I liked him well enough. He’s a corrupt cop who is used to using a gun so he is actually very helpful on the battlefield. I thought he was a rather unique character who worked well in this context. Definitely someone you don’t forget too soon. He may not be super talented but he’s better than the no names so he at least earned his spot as one of the guards.

Well with the Stone Wars done, it was time to get a boat and then head off to the next adventure. This time it’s a big battle on an island against someone who knows how to manipulate the Medusa stones in order to turn people into stone. It makes for a very dangerous weapon and this is definitely not someone that you want to go up against without a plan. The villain here isn’t as interesting as Tsukasa by a longshot but it’s still a fun arc. We get some memorable visuals like the villain jumping head first towards the water while yelling. That could be a good jump scare in the show if handled right.

Ultimately it doesn’t have the hype and pure stakes as the Stone Wars but it’s still a good follow up arc. Plus it probably would have been very difficult to have topped that initial saga. The villain being rather lackluster is the arc’s biggest weak point but as a whole I would still say it does more good than bad. It’s the weakest of the big arcs pretty much by default and that’s because I merge the Xeno and aftermath as one arc. If you split them then this beats the epilogue.

Ryusui got to join the crew during this adventure and he’s really a standout character. Now here is someone who can absolutely hold his own with the old guard. He brought a lot of confidence to the table and ended up being a very memorable character as well. His expertise with the boats were absolutely unmatched and he always knows how to have a good time. I’d argue that the cast really needed a high energy guy like this to keep everyone focused.

Then you have his assistant Francois who does well with the cooking. This character doesn’t get a ton to do but is still fun enough. Ibara is the main villain of the island arc and he never grew on me. In a way he’s the perfect example of the kind of corrupt grown up that Tsukasa was talking about. He found out how to use the medusa power and immediately used it to be an evil ruler. Literally the guy wasted absolutely no time in doing so. If he was a little less greedy and focused more on leveraging that into being an unstoppable king who at least cared for his tribe then he may have actually made it out of this.

Matsukaze is a solid character. I like that he can fight well and it’s just a shame that he happened to decide to serve a comic relief character. Man he could have really gone places but he was introduced rather late so it’s possible that he wouldn’t have had a chance to do much more than that either way. It’s just nice to have another fighter on the team. Mozu is another strong warrior but he doesn’t have much to do. Again as this isn’t really a battle manga, you can’t expect the characters to get to mix it up with the others too often.

Finally we approach the Xeno arc and this time we got to have some real competition for Senku. Xeno is the first villain to actually be able to keep up with Senku on an intellectual level and it works extremely well. Basically he is a part of the Nasa group and he actually had a plan for if this ever happened and he got a chance to rule the world. The guy thinks ahead, that’s definitely his forte without a doubt. Can Senku and friends really stop him? The guy has homefield advantage since they’re in America or maybe Senku and friends have finally picked an opponent who is too powerful.

It was great to see America and part of what I also liked about this arc was it showed that Senku wasn’t the only one to defeat the stone conditioning. You have to assume that at least someone else was able to keep their mind active the whole time and it’s fitting that Xeno could pull this off. They don’t call him a genius for nothing after all. When the heroes land in America and see that the place actually still looks okay, it was a great shock value moment. The villains had already started tending to the crops and such to build a civilization of their own.

For the first time Senku and friends were truly out of their depth in a modern world. Stanley also does give us some really good action scenes as that villain’s an expert with a gun. The series also paid special attention to show that as a soldier he was still bound by a code of ethics and didn’t suddenly become a monster or anything like that. It was a good way to give the villains some nuance here. Stone Wars is my favorite arc still but this one was definitely a blast.

If I have one issue with the arc it’s that at this point with a way to not only undue the petrification but also to glue the parts together, there isn’t a lot of stakes anymore. At one point the villains start blowing up the heroes to kingdom come but you know they can be revived anyway so it’s not particularly a big deal. At least in DBZ the planet might blow up so there are no dragon balls but here it’s not like the villains are going to do anything. As soon as the heroes found out that the serum pretty much makes them immortal, it meant that traditional fights wouldn’t have the same impact as they used to. At least it was a good way to show how effective guns are as even Tsukasa couldn’t do much against them. Guns are truly overpowered in a world where only one side has them.

Xeno definitely lives up to the hype here as the big bad. His discussions with Senku are really solid. Even if they both disagree on a whole lot of things, they have respect for science which is what still unites them. They never ended up forgetting that part of themselves. He has a cool design too and has to be one of the stand out characters here. Likewise Stanley is excellent as the muscle of the crew and is also very smart in his own right. He picks up on all the clues Xeno sends him, no matter how subtle they are. He’s also an expert at reading the room and using his expertise in a fight to get the upper hand on the heroes. These two are a big reason as to why the arc was a lot of fun.

After the main fights we also get a lot of new characters added into the mix for Senku’s group. For the most part they’re all added in too late though and don’t really get much to do. I dare say they didn’t need to be added like the watch guy or the girl who can read the land. It’s nice to have some more support but ultimately I didn’t feel like their roles were so big that they had to be around. At least Sai got to give us some video game moments which is always fun but for the most part you knew the series was ending so you were more interested in seeing the Whyman plot come to an end.

Now for that part, that’s where things crumble a little bit. So lets overlook how the science goes really fast here. While I don’t buy into them creating numerous rockets back to back in a short timespan like this, we had to get the heroes into the Moon somehow. My issue is that Whyman does not live up to the hype. This guy had great moments where he yelled to the planet and even had Senku’s voice somehow. Needless to say, the hype was through the roof here!

Then when he shows up, the guy has no passion, no vision. His true form isn’t very interesting and his whole plan makes absolutely no sense. The heroes even mention this and Whyman has no real response to this. Because even he knows that his actions made absolutely no sense. I didn’t think the manga did a good job of really explaining this guy. Considering that this plot was around for almost the whole series, it feels like the author didn’t really think it through. There were so many interesting routes that could have happened for this and they all ended up fading away.

It’s not a train wreck ending or anything but I thought it was super underwhelming. If ever there was a time to throw in some action and fighting then this was it. It would have made for a very memorable climax with everything at stake instead of whatever this was. At least the aftermath/epilogue for the series was cool though. We finally get the high tech gizmo I had been waiting for and it would work really well for a sequel series. There’s a lot of potential there.

Before wrapping things up, I should quickly mention that the series handled the mini flashback saga well. I liked Byakuya and Lillian as the two leads to that adventure. The old ship crew all had a good dynamic and it was nice seeing them end up creating their own small world on Earth as well. Naturally they couldn’t wait 3700 years for Senku and friends but they did well to accomplish a lot on their own without a resident genius.

Overall, That about wraps up Dr. Stone. It was definitely a great series with a solid amount of characters and action. It certainly had a long lasting career with all the chapters it ended up with and it’ll be nice to see some kind of sequel or spinoff eventually as an ongoing. Of course if the author is busy with more One Piece projects I’d definitely understand. I’m sure he’s having fun getting to tell a lot of different stories. If you haven’t read Dr. Stone yet then I would definitely recommend changing that. It makes for a very interesting read and you should definitely try making the Senku cola once you get to that point.

Overall 8/10

Yugioh Vrains Review


It’s time to link into the Vrains! Yugioh was always known as the big trading card franchise for a long while as even Duel Masters could not keep up but as the years went by it started to lose its ground at the top. Nowadays you could make a fair case for Cardfight Vanguard surpassing it in discussion at least for the shows. That said, Vrains is the end of the old guard in a sense since Sevens is really the start of a whole new direction. Vrains is another great show so Yugioh continues to go strong there. While I do think it ended up being the weakest of the classic Yugioh shows (Aside from Capsule Monsters and the original show) that’s more due to the high bar set by the franchise as opposed to this one lacking in anything. GX, 5Ds, and Arc V still remain at the top by a longshot, then you have classic and then Zexal, then Vrains comes riding through. We’ll see if Sevens can break into this very exclusive group of shows or if it’ll lag behind.

The show here follows Yusaku, whose alter ego is Playmaker. He was involved in an experiment as a kid that traumatized him as well as a lot of other kids and then the incident was buried. Yusaku has some issues with his memory, why he was there in the first place, and also has trust issues now. So he really stays by himself and the only person he truly trusts is Kolter. Yusaku now works as a hacker so he can find out the truth in the world and he’s also an expert duelist on the side. The only leads he has is the group known as the Knights of Hanoi and SOL Technlogies, and an advanced A.I. program (Ignis) named Ai. Will Yusaku be able to put this puzzle back into focus?

So lets talk a bit about the show as a whole first before getting into the arcs and characters. I do like the idea of dueling while on airboards now. It’s a natural piece of progression after being on motorcycles before. Arc V had rollerblades and flying through the arena so it’s only natural that fighting while in the air would be next right? The characters have to watch out for the constant tornadoes but it’s pretty intense. I would say motorcycles is still the best aside from normal dueling but this one is still cool.

The gimmick for Vrains is also considerably better than the one in Arc V where you could just randomly grab cards. Here you get to use a unique skill once per turn and every player has a different unique skill. It’s an interesting mechanic that doesn’t completely take over every duel so it actually feels rather balanced. At the very least I thought it was handled pretty well personally. It’s a visually interesting ability and with the characters already in the air, the whole thing helps to augment the duel without distracting from it.

I also enjoyed the mystery angle in the show with Yusaku trying to find out about his past. If he had full amnesia or something then that would have been annoying but instead it’s about that one specific event which always raises a lot of questions for Yusaku. Why wouldn’t it right? The whole thing seems incredibly suspect so it’s no wonder that he wants to find out exactly what was going on there. It’s a slow boil as you gradually find out the details of the mystery and that’s handled well.

Yusaku also makes for a very fun protagonist with how rude he can be the whole time. Yusaku is very much not a people person and he reminds the case of this a lot with his subtle burns. He’s never sarcastic but he will put a character in their place with a sharp remark at the drop of a hat. Yusaku is a master duelist so he can also quiet other characters down that way. As the series goes on he gets to be a nicer guy and someone who even believes in the power of friendship but he never completely loses his edge. He’s a solid character through and through as well as someone that all of the villains have to respect as a solid threat.

It was also nice to have various factions running around here. You had SOL Technologies and their various duelists and fighters running around. They even hire a bounty hunter at one point. You’ve got Yusaku and his friends on the heroes side and then you have the Knights of Hanoi with their own schemes to hack the world. So at all points in the series there are at least 3 factions running around and I think that’s a good thing because it always means there could be a wild card running around. It helps to keep things from being too static or straight forward.

Naturally the animation is very solid here. Yugioh never goes for looks that are too fancy or anything but it’s all well detailed and I had no issues with how anything looked. The designs and backdrops are always solid as well as the dueling effects. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable than some of the previous Yugioh titles though. I can’t really recall too many of the individual dueling themes and the English version of the theme song at least was rather underwhelming. So on the music side this one doesn’t quite hold up.

Now I suppose the question is what keeps Vrains from beating the other Yugioh shows. Well, I do think the soundtrack and animation play a part as it doesn’t look or sound as good as any of the others. While it’s not a major deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s still an important factor when you’re going up against elite titles. Faster music would have been good and the animation just didn’t get as out there as you would expect. GX and 5Ds for example came out ages ago but the animation still holds up even better I would say, especially in some of the biggest duels. I don’t even have to go into the soundtrack since those were amazing.

The cast is also a bit weaker overall. There aren’t a whole lot of Vrain characters that I would say are really high tier. One character who eventually got high tier didn’t reach that point in the final season. This was Ai as he was annoying for around the first 100 episodes before finally getting good. For the most part the characters just didn’t reach the next level though and as a result you had less heart pumping duels. The climax of each arc would get fairly intense but I would say that it could take a little while to get to that point.

Now all of these points are speaking relative to the other titles. This is still an 8 star title so you can tell that it is great all around. When you look at the show by itself, I wouldn’t consider these to be true weak points as the show still handles them well. It’s just the little things that can keep you from reaching the top and shattering all of the limits. It’s also difficult following a title like Arc V which was the big crossover saga for all of the series. That may be why this one intentionally tried to be a little more low key and about the mystery/world instead of always being about the duels. At least early on it’s going more in that direction which isn’t even a bad idea. It’s pretty enjoyable to see Yusaku playing detective and to see where that goes.

Now I’d say that’s a pretty good time to start jumping into the story arcs and talking about the characters a bit. The show had 120 episodes so as you can probably imagine, there was a whole lot going on here at all times. It makes for a great adventure and the longer you go the better. So if you’re 100+ episodes and an 8? Well that means you’re in for a treat because that’s a lot of content for greatness. If you’re 100+ but a 7 or lower then that’s still pretty good but it isn’t nearly as mind-blowing or anything like that.

The first part of the season’s more about the introductions. So while Yusaku is on his quest to find the answers, he gets to meet up with a lot of characters both friend or foe. Those who enjoy Link Vrains and those who want to see it go down. The Knights of Hanoi have taken a very drastic approach in this endeavor as they seek to completely delete it which will keep A.I. from taking over the planet. See, part of their concern is that humanity relies on the A.I. too much and so if they ever revolt, the world could be in trouble. While this may seem a little drastic, the show does give them some ammo here.

See, everything in this world relies on A.I. From entertainment to schoolwork, to hobbies, and normal work. Everything is connected with the sci-fi elements at this point. The Knights of Hanoi have seen firsthand how dangerous this can be and so they aim to nip this in the bud. It will of course be a huge inconvenience to everyone who uses Link Vrains but at least it’s not like they’re trying to blow up the planet or anything. It makes for a very interesting goal on the villains part. Then in a way SOL Technologies would be the good guys since they control Link Vrains but they have so many secrets and shadowy figures that it’s not like you can trust them either. At the end of the day Yusaku can only really rely on himself.

That said, I do think SOL Technologies could have done a little better with their council of elders. Those guys talk a really tough game but at the end of the day they can barely fight. You never see them actually running to the frontlines or anything like that. SOL has the money to buy a bunch of bounty hunters and such but I would have liked to have seen these guys getting in some action too. Now that would have been a lot of fun.

As mentioned earlier, Kolter is Yusaku’s main friend and he’s not bad. Hostage situations do force him into some tricky calls later on in the series but for the most part he’s dependable. I just wish he could duel a little better so that he could actively help Yusaku instead of always being on the sidelines. He helps out with the coding and all but dueling is the best way because you can just get right in there without any delay. He and Yusaku also have some good conversations on hot dogs and whether they’re a sandwich or not. I always thought those conversations were pretty cool.

Then there’s Ai. Well, I’ll talk about him a bit more again for the final arc but for the majority of the series I didn’t really care for him. Each Yugioh series always needs a mascot/advisor to the main character. The one in the classic Yugioh is Yami Yugi of course and he’s really serious but then sometimes you may have someone like Astral where you can’t trust him all that much and he’s not a great character. Ai is more on that level as he talks tough but is proven to be wrong every time. His confidence is never warranted and he just holds Yusaku back so there’s no way for me to like him much. It’s not until the final saga that he suddenly becomes a pretty good character.

Now Zaizen is a high quality character. At first he may seem like your classic government worker type villain who can’t fight and just sends goons after Yusaku but there’s a lot more to him than that. One of his motivations for getting to the top is so that he can protect his sister Skye and he even tries to prevent her from dueling for that reason since it can get rather dangerous. He does take it too far but you can get at least why he has that general view. Then when it’s crunch time he actually is able to duel. Sometimes Zaizen does take the easy way out and just follows the company line, but otherwise he will stand up for himself which is always what you want to see.

He looks into SOL Technologies on his own as well and gets a lot of character development. Ultimately I wouldn’t call him a hero but he was one of the most interesting characters in the whole show. Then you have Emma aka Ghost Gal who he would hire to get info sometimes. She’s sort of like a bounty hunter who will do missions for the right price. Typically she leans more on the side of being a hero and doing the right kind of tasks but I wouldn’t say exclusively. Ultimately if you’re willing to pay then she is willing to help out. She can duel very well too so she can take care of herself when a mission goes sideways. She brings a nice dynamic to the series.

Next up is The Gore but I never ended up liking this guy. He’s your classic strong but not very smart guy. There’s a nice touch to his character with how he fights so that the orphans can have someone to look up to. I think if that was played up then he could have been really good but he gets entranced by the darkness several times. It feels like he was always being a traitor and it’s not like he’s an expert duelist either. If his character had gone in a different direction then it could have worked but not like this.

As for the villains, lets start off with the leader Varis. He has a personal vendetta against all Ignis because he believes that they go too far. He doesn’t necessarily have a problem with A.I. and technology itself but since the Ignis have a will of their own they become too dangerous. He really thinks that this level of technology should not be around and so he tries to eliminate them and make a mess of Link Vrains. He has a very solid backstory here to set up this goal and his confidence is always high.

In a lot of ways he will definitely remind you of Kaiba. The two of them have a lot of similarities as characters and are both top of their field. Even by the end of the series Varis still has some edge to him. There’s one fight that he ends up throwing near the end of the series that I found to be a little cheesy though. I get that he wanted to end the cycle of violence but I would have liked him to have stayed the course and gone off to destroy the Ignis anyway. That would have been the ideal scenario for me.

Then you have Specter who I like to think of as the right hand man. The Varis group doesn’t necessarily have full rankings like that but this guy always proved himself to be the most capable fighter. His fight with Skye was really a highlight in the series as it was one of those battles that subverted your expectations several times. His backstory was surprisingly emotional and he just made for an excellent all around fighter. The guy is one of those villains who loves taunting his opponents and he puts this to great effect. The characters just have no idea how to deal with him since he throws them so far off their game.

Then you have Dr. Kogami who is a mysterious scientist who ends up having a big role later on. He’s overshadowed by the other two villains for me but this guy wasn’t bad. He has grand ambitions and has quite a few “All according to plan” moments so I’ll give him that. Maybe if his deck had more of a shiny gimmick to it that would have helped him be even more memorable.

I mentioned her before, but of course we can’t go on without talking about Skye. She plays a big role here as the main heroine and has to balance being a celebrity in Vrains while not letting her brother realize that she even uses the system. That makes for a difficult balance of course but she pulls it off. I liked Skye well enough even if she probably could have used a few more wins in the dueling world. After a while you realize that none of Yusaku’s friends can hold their own (Until Soul Burner arrives) so he really has to pick up the slack for everyone. Ultimately you can always count on Skye to do her best in helping out though.

Now we enter the meat of the first arc which is that Varis and the Knights of Hanoi have constructed a tower. Each duelist they defeat is destroyed and put into the tower. If it isn’t stopped quickly then all of Link Vrains will be taken down for good. Yusaku will have to rely on his friends to help him here but when they are soundly defeated then it’s up to him as expected. Seriously the friends do their best to help but often times they don’t really help much in the grand scheme of things. Yusaku has to do the heavy lifting at all times.

There are a lot of hype duels throughout the tower experience as you’d expect. The three highlights are Yusaku vs Varis, Skye vs Specter, and then Specter vs Yusaku. As I mentioned earlier, Specter is just a master of mental manipulation and I was really impressed with him the whole time. Initially I figured he was going to be more of a throwaway villain who was not going to be ready to fight in the big leagues like this but he proved me wrong. This guy was absolutely ready to swing for the fences.

As for Varis, well the series was hyping up his duel with Yusaku for a very long time and it lived up to it. Technically they had several duels but this was the big one to end the arc so it was extra special. A few other villains also appeared here who were reasonably solid even if they couldn’t top the big two. One was Faust and he’s a bit of a genius although all of the villains are to an extent. He has a solid duel and makes his presence known. After this season he would continue to appear but he doesn’t get to duel nearly as much. He’s more of a supporting character.

Finally there is Baira and she came up with a solid computer glitch that can damage you even in the real world when you duel in Link Vrains. That was no small feat and she made for another solid villain to go up against. Then you’ve got one hero I hadn’t talked about yet in Shima. This is the comic relief character of the series and so I don’t have many positive things to say about him. Comic relief characters can be cool of course but the first step is that they need to be funny and Shima never was. He just tries too hard in his scenes and he’s not even a good duelist. That’s a bad sign in a show about dueling.

Now with season 2 we enter the main arcs of the series. The planet that the Ignis lived on has been destroyed and so now they are appearing on Earth. Some of the Ignis wish to conquer it while others want to take a peaceful approach. Lightning ends up being the ring leader here and he quickly gets Windy on board. Then he uses the cyborg Bohman and his brother Harlin to back him up. Even the Ignis who were on the fence like Earth have to take a stand and the Knights of Hanoi aren’t making it easy to convince them of a peaceful solution since they vow to destroy all the Ignis either way. Yusaku will have to try for peace but is that even possible?

Lightning even ran simulations which showed that eventually war would break out between the Ignis and humans which would cause everyone to die. He ran this simulation numerous times and it always ended up the same way which is why he decided to make the first move. I do like that this does at least give a good reason for why he turned evil like this. If you see that in the future everyone ends up dying every time, then you would probably feel really tempted to attack.

Lightning also just made for a really solid villain. He’s easily the most memorable of the Ignis for that reason and is an exceptional duelist all the way through. Then you have Windy who is also a solid villain. I would say that he doesn’t quite keep up with Lightning in part because he had to be convinced and isn’t a true leader in that sense. Still, Windy does his share of damage and doesn’t crack when he is nearly destroyed by the humans. This was definitely another villain that the heroes had to watch out for.

Earth was my least favorite member of the Ignis. He decided to stay on the fence and also didn’t confess to Aqua quickly enough. He tends to take forever to make a point and ultimately gets captured. His fate is the darkest by far among the Ignis and it’s probably the darkest scene in the series to be honest. You definitely feel bad for him and at the same time it really makes Lightning’s point on why the humans can’t be trusted. There will always be some of them around who will show up to try and destroy the Ignis. This was just the latest example of that.

Then there is Aqua and she’s nice enough but unfortunately her dueling skills aren’t quite on the same level s the others. She’s more of a pacifist but at least is more determined than Earth was. Aqua ends up having a good bond with Skye and does her best to help out. At least she did choose a side instead of staying in the middle so I give her props for that.

Finally we have Flame and I liked him well enough although I expected better out of both him and Soulburner. On their initial appearance it felt like they were going to be the cool rival character to give Yusaku a run for his money and then it never happened. It helps that Soulburner’s human alter ego just isn’t as cool as you would expect. Part of the point is that he’s actually not a super cool dude in the real world but I would have switched that so he was cool in both realms. Would have just worked better right? As for Flame, he does a good job of backing Soulburner up but it felt like he didn’t have a ton of personality most of the time.

He’s a good guy and he can hurl some insults but that’s about it. At least Soulburner has some good rage moments when it comes time to deal with his backstory or fighting against Varis. So there would be full episodes where Soulburner actually was really cool. It doesn’t happen all of the time but when it happens that’s definitely cool at least. Now it’s time for the 4 villains in this arc. First up is Jin and sure he’s being manipulated the whole time but that means he is still showing up as a villain here.

He just didn’t end up being nearly as cool as he could have been as a result. The guy has no willpower and is really just a puppet to be used the whole time. Considering how long it took Kolter to find him, it would have been nice if Jin was more helpful. Maybe give him one big duel before he gets brainwashed. Then you have Bohman who gets brainwashed a lot as well. The guy is given different memories each time just to mess with him. The reason Bohman is cooler though is because at least he can duel really effectively.

He gets stronger in each duel and by the end he even learns how to have goals of his own. He has some really solid duels throughout and you just grew to like the guy. Bohman is a great example of a fun villain. Not saying you’ll be rooting for him or anything like that but like Lightning he at least has a fairly good thought process on what he’s doing.

Then there is his brother Harlin. That guy’s more on the emotional side for the villain as he has a hard time really appreciating Bohman until it starts to be too late. Harlin’s confidence well exceeds his overall dueling ability so he doesn’t stand out quite as much. He’s decent but you just won’t be putting him above any of the other big villains. Finally you’ve got Shepherd who is a bounty hunter and a nice wild card to throw onto the field. You definitely don’t want to underestimate this guy and he even got Yusaku into a sticky situation several times. He also can’t stand A.I. like Varis and that makes him another good character to have around. He’ll attack both heroes and villains depending on the job and I like those kind of characters. Shepherd will do whatever it takes to fulfill his own ambitions.

Finally we’ve reached the final arc which is rather short but very impactful. It raises a lot of good questions and it also what made Ai go to being a fairly high tier character. So the season starts off with Ai making a big choice. He realizes that the Ignis were right and declares war on humanity. He will take them all out and just needs to obtain the two card keys from SOL Technologies. After Ai obtains the first one, the heroes know that he is serious about this. Somehow he has become a world class duelist with exceptional cards though so defeating Ai won’t be easy. Pretty much every available character is rounded up to stop Ai but will they really be enough to defeat him? With Yusaku being shaken up at the revelation, it won’t be easy this time.

The whole A.I. vs humanity angle is something that the show goes into quite a lot as I discussed earlier in the main Ignis arc. It’s really an interesting plot and I like it when the show goes into this. The humans are always attacking them after all but it was still very surprising to see Ai going to the other side. He usually just gets beaten up by everybody but still bounces back with a smile. It turns out that he was looking at things a lot more seriously than he let on. He probably should have talked with Yusaku before going out on his own though. Ai ends up being very impulsive when it matters.

It would normally be hard to take him seriously though which is where the show did an excellent job with his character. He gets a whole new design and actually looks really good. Now he is a fighter that the heroes can’t afford to underestimate at all. Doing so could cost the planet. Naturally there are a lot of twists and turns here as well as infighting with the heroes. After all, the season is still close to 20 episodes so it’s not like the whole thing could just be the Ai duels. Fortunately the other duels are still a blast as well. This was a fitting way to end the series and it was really hype as a climax.

The ending of the series is very final and does feel like a good way to wrap things up. There is one scene in the final episode that definitely helps to give it a good buff. It’s the kind of scene that I enjoy having there as a positive twist at any rate. So that’s the story of Yugioh Vrains and it’s a good one. Of course I didn’t go into details on some of the twists and turns here so you can get into it on your own. That way they’ll really have a lot of bite and substance to them. There’s no way you walk away from the series with any feeling other than just being happy and thrilled.

Overall, Yugioh Vrains is definitely a great series. I would recommend it to any anime fan, whether they’re someone who is already into Yugioh or someone looking for a good show. Either way it’s easy to follow and a good enough starting place for any future Yugioh fan. As I wrote above it’s a great show that’s well balanced in all areas. It’s also emotional that this is effectively the end of the traditional Yugioh shows. We’ll see if Sevens is able to top it as the start of the next gen or not. Either way you won’t be forgetting Vrains anytime soon.

Overall 8/10

Black Clover Review


This has certainly been a long time coming, but it’s time to finally review the Black Clover anime. I finished this show almost a year ago at this point but it’s a really long one which meant the review would be long too so it kept on getting pushed back on the priority list. Well, now it’s time to jump in and the series certainly earns its rep as being the next big Jump title. It’s today’s version of Naruto and quickly gets you into the mix with a lot of hype characters and storylines.

The series centers around a boy named Asta who has grown up with no magical abilities. He literally has no mana and seems to be cursed as it just won’t generate no matter what he does. In this world it is difficult to function at all without magic because society will brand you as a failure. It means you will be constantly teased and picked on, additionally Asta is a commoner which is another strike against him by the masses. Asta has sworn to get around this by honing his body to its absolute limit though to the point where he can still fight with magical users.

Asta keeps on going and is eventually selected by the Black Bulls, the worst of the magic squads and known for having a bunch of crazy members. Still, they chose Asta to be one of them so he will help transform them into the greatest squad that the world has ever seen. Asta’s goal is to eventually become the Wizard King and prove himself as the strongest of all. He can then change the world to make it more just for everyone no matter their individual status. This won’t be easy but he is determined to see this goal through to the end.

When I say there is a lot to discuss in this review, trust me it’s not an understatement. I’ll talk about the technicals first now and then we’ll jump into the story arcs and characters. You don’t see too many long running action titles like this nowadays since most anime go for the seasonal route. Aside from Boruto and One Piece, this may have been the last big Shonen ongoing like this. So in a way Black Clover was around for the end of an era. Seasonal shows certainly have their advantages and it’s always a fun debate but I was glad that Clover really got to go in with so many episodes here.

Right from the jump I thought the show looked really good. It’s by Studio Pierrot after all so I wasn’t surprised. They have animated some of the absolute best shows around. They may not be Ufotable but in my earlier animation editorial I showed why they are absolutely one of the best around. Black Clover gets a good budget. I thought it may not have looked too impressive before watching it because for some reason you see it mentioned online a lot that the show doesn’t look good but clearly they haven’t seen the fights.

Even when the animators were rushed and it was tough to meet the deadlines, they made the show look epic. There was only one fight at the end of the witch arc that I thought went too far with the experimental style. Experimenting a bit is good but go too far and it starts to look like a fan animation. I understand that was one of the fights where they really had to hurry though so that’s understandable. The series can switch between a very detailed art style one moment and then go into a streamlined one the next. Each fight is really fast paced so you can feel how powerful the characters were. I can confidently say that the animation is at a great level throughout the series. There are just many standout ones throughout so you never feel like the series is lagging behind.

Then you’ve got an excellent 5 star soundtrack up next. I did an editorial ranking all of the openings a while back because one of its particular strengths is how great those were. The openings all have a lot of life to them and just sound incredible. Whenever one is played for a big battle then you know that things are going to be epic. The themes inside of the actual series are also very good. There are a ton of great battle themes and emotional ones in there. A benefit of being such a long series is that there are really a whole lot of themes to choose from. You’ll be very familiar with all of them by the end but they really don’t hold back.

On a technical level the series is just excellent and so it helps to elevate the story. Fortunately the manga is also quite awesome so then what you have is a show that’s virtually perfect. It’s always interesting and has a great cast of characters to balance out the fun stories. The series can get serious as well and you feel a sense of danger. There also isn’t too much fanservice and the anime even cut some moments out which was really nice. I won’t say that a series like this is devoid of it, but they do a good job of avoiding it for the majority of the time.

Black Clover also has a good amount of humor to it as well. There are a lot of fun scenes throughout the show and sometimes the visual gag is what really helps seal the scene like when Asta’s eyes turn into sparkles. That’s usually a whole lot of fun and each of the characters have a fun dynamic with each other. This is a very well balanced anime that you could recommend to anyone. There’s definitely no doubt on that. This wraps up the general thoughts on the series so now it’s time to dig deep and really look at the characters and story.

The show starts off with the pre arc where we get to meet each of the Black Bulls and the team starts to form some good bonds with each other. We see how the day to day missions play out and each of the characters also gets a lot stronger. The show’s got good pacing here and while most of these original villains won’t be too memorable, they do serve their purpose in the fights. They look fairly menacing and give the heroes a run for their money. At the end of the day that’s what we’re looking for here right?

Asta is a terrific main character and one of the best leads in recent history. He works really hard and doesn’t let his lack of magic get to him. Throughout the 150+ episodes, he probably only gets down about it once or twice. The rest of the time he is busy training and getting himself fired up to be stronger and stronger. That’s exactly what you want to see in a main character here. His anti magic would not be nearly as useful if he wasn’t constantly training it so that he could be the strongest fighter around. Asta’s just an inspirational guy and he makes everyone around him that much better.

His rivalry with Yuno also has to be the healthiest that I’ve ever seen in Shonen Jump. They constantly build each other up even as they have their friendly banter. They never say something that they would regret later on or take advantage of the other one being in a bad place. Yuno never turns evil in the show and it seems unlikely at this point. That’s because the heroes aren’t jealous of each other. They respect each other’s strengths and keep is moving. That’s what it means to have a true rivalry and I feel like the show really understands that.

Yuno is a great character too of course. He fights hard to defend his friends and prove that he deserves the 4 leaf grimoire. He never backs down from a fight and he is always improving his wind abilities. Yuno wasn’t much of a team player at first but as the series goes on he gets more and more accustomed to working with others. Gone are the days where he was purely a solo act, he’s now ready to help everyone out on his road to being the Wizard King. We’ll see who makes it there first, him or Asta.

Noelle is the main heroine of the series and she is with Asta on the Black Bulls. She is a royal but has a hard time controlling her abilities which causes the other members of the family to ridicule her at all times. As a result Noelle struggles with confidence issues throughout the series but has one of the best character development arcs around. Each arc has her learn to trust in her friends as well as herself to get the job done. So while at one point she wouldn’t even shoot a single spell straight, now she can launch finishers with ease. She’s very much a tsundere so she has a hard time expressing her feelings. Usually you can find her just beating up on Asta and friends but in a pinch they know they can count on her.

Luck is another member of the Black Bulls and he’s one of those characters that really loves a good fight. He will do anything to get the fight that he has been longing for but sometimes that does mean that he will bite off more than he can chew. Considering that Luck is the kind of guy who likes to fight a lot, I wouldn’t say that he is one of the strongest members on the crew though. He does tend to get beaten out by a few of the others but he always has fun and he’s a character that you’ll probably find to be very likable. His backstory is also rather emotional so you can definitely see how things turned out the way that they did for him.

Luck’s rival is Magna who is more of a street punk kind of character. He lacks the overall talent and abilities that some of the other Black Bulls have which can end up making him feel bad but he rarely stays down for long. You feel like Magna will never actually catch up but at least he’s trying and the guy does use fire magic which I like. The problem is that there are at least 3 other characters in the same series who are better at fire magic which is not a good sign for him. Magna’s best chance to be more relevant in the future will be for him to switch attributes or go for magic techniques that are very unique from the other fire attacks.

Then we have Yami who is the captain of the Black Bulls and naturally has a very big role here. He’s a fan favorite and it’s easy to see why because he knows how to take charge of the team at any given moment and also just has a lot of pull. When he’s on the case you know that the troops are going to fall into line right away. His dark magic attacks are solid and he always makes sure to prioritize saving his comrades over following the rules. That’s the right order to do things if you ask me so that’s a very good look. He’ll always be one of the best.

Finral is another member of the Black Bulls but he is a weaker character. The guy does start to have a character arc where he won’t be flirting with all of the ladies as much and that’s good but in the meantime it’s not like his character has really been any good. He may get his moments but ultimately I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of his. He’s just not my kind of character and the series taking that long to try and turn him into one just didn’t work out for me. Perhaps in a sequel series he will end up being really good. He’s helpful in combat at least but that still isn’t enough yet.

Vanessa is more of a support fighter on the team but she takes this to new limits as her cat of fate can allow her comrades to escape death. It’s a fate alteration technique which is incredibly helpful. It’s the kind of ability you rarely see a hero have since it can easily make it hard to write the villains into a scenario where they can win but Black Clover’s done well with this so far. She’s a fun character and while she may not stand out as much as some of the others, she gets the job done.

Gauche is a character who had some potential but his running gag sort of ruins it. He’s always talking about his sister Marie and while it’s nice that he wants to protect her, the whole thing is overplayed way too much. He’s an example of a character with a lot of comedic scenes that actually aren’t that funny. That’s not a good thing when that represents the vast majority of your character moments. He’s another character who isn’t likely to rise up all that high for me.

Finally there’s Charmy and we don’t know a whole lot about her compared to some of the other characters. She gets a lot of comedic moments as well but you can tell that she’s hiding a great power behind it all. That kind of character can work but it’s certainly a lot trickier than it would be if she was just a solid fighter all of the time. They’re always hinting at a backstory involving the elves or something similar with her but we haven’t really gotten it yet. All in all, I can’t say I’m too impressed with her.

Another character who appears early on in the pre arc is Sekke. This guy’s the Hercule/King of the series in that he’s a really big comic relief character who tends to fall upwards. Things just work out for him even though Sekke is as weak as a character can get. He does have one or two spells but just about any fighter would defeat him with ease. The only way he gets out of the situations is to be lucky. That said, I loved his character gimmick of adding a little “haha!” to the end of each of his sentences. Usually a little word at the end gets old fast but sometimes it works like in Air and now this series. So Sekke I do like in his role, he’s a better comic relief character than most.

Klaus is one of the Golden Dawn members who works with Yuno. You’ll realize early on that aside from the Black Bulls, most of the other squads don’t have a ton of characters with their own individual character designs and arcs. It’s fitting since the Bulls are the main team but at least the Dawn have a handful. Klaus is one of them and he’s not bad. At first he’s one of those classic royals who dislikes all commoners but he is quickly able to shed that opinion and that’s when I started liking him. It takes a good character to be able to get with the program that quickly and I thought he did really well. His magic may not be super helpful but it’s the thought that counts.

Then you have Mimosa who is the healer of the group. She can heal most injuries at a really rapid speed which comes in handy with how many dangerous missions the characters go on. That means she isn’t often on the front lines but when necessary she can scrounge up an attack spell or two. Mimosa is a decent enough character even if she is rather harsh to one of her brothers during the tournament. The Silva family tends to be rather crazy so she probably has a lot of justification for this but at least from what we see it feels like she is a bit too relentless there.

Of course we also have Bell who serves as Yuno’s nature spirit to further amp up his abilities. She’s not really my kind of character though. She tends to get jealous really quickly, almost instantly at every moment. So in a way she starts to get in Yuno’s way instead of helping and she reminds me of Tinker Bell a lot. If Bell could fight more on her own that would help but as it is, it never feels like she serves much of a role in the story.

I can’t forget about Sister Lily either. She is crucial to helping with Asta’s character development as one of his goals is to get together with her. The issue though is that she can never be with a man because of her job so this always leads Asta to be rather depressed. Lily doesn’t get to do a whole lot beyond her initial appearance but she’s a fun character and at least she does have a water spell as a last resort.

Now lets dive into the first story arc here which is the mission into the Diamond Kingdom dungeon. We get to see how the Black Bulls deal with a foreign squad here as both Yuno and Asta’s group fight off the invaders. This was a good way to show us how one of these battles would go and I thought the whole thing went rather smoothly. We had a big team up with Asta and Yuno as well as a future rival of sorts in Mars. Now, I do think Mars could have been used a lot more in the series. He ends up vanishing for pretty much the rest of it but he was a good antagonist.

Mars even gets his own backstory and everything. It should at least come across as pretty sad the whole time. His abilities also made him a true threat. There was another villain in this arc by the name of Lotus and I thought he was surprisingly really solid. The guy has a very laidback kind of vibe to him but it’s one that worked well. Lotus can absolutely fight as need be and was even overwhelming Luck the whole time in their battle. He doesn’t get to do much after this but he’s a villain who leaves a lasting impression on you.

After this we get to have Asta and friends invited to the capital to get their awards and recognition from the Wizard King. Pretty much all of the captains are here so they also get to really meet them. It turns out that a lot of these guys are just as bad as the random royals with how they all insult Noelle. It does have one of my favorite scenes in the series though when Asta steps in to defend her and even goes up against several fighters at once. It was one of many moments that propelled him to being so high tier for me. This then transitions into a mini invasion arc as Rades sends a bunch of undeads out to take down Asta and friends. The actual arc isn’t as exciting as the smaller event but it’s a good chance to see Asta taking more names.

Rades will end up being a reoccurring villain later on. He’s not the most threatening villain I’ve seen and he’s borderline comic relief at times but he works well enough. I don’t think you’ll remember him as being much more than an afterthought most of the time though. For the heroes, well we’re introduced to quite a few bad ones like Noelle’s siblings. Those two characters are just extremely petty and don’t have the strength to back it up so they’re just awful.

We meet Nozel who is the leader of the 2nd strongest guild but he’s one of the guys who really encourages everyone to be mean to Noelle so there’s no way to like him. You’d think that he would be more considerate of her since they’re siblings but if anything he ends up going after her even harder than the others. That’s not the kind of thing I can easily overlook. So he is strong and I can’t deny that but I just never liked him. Later on the series tries to walk it back a bit but it’s just way too late.

On the other hand, Fuegoleon gets to look really solid to start things off. He actually has a good honor code and even gives Noelle a good pep talk. This is a man of honor who also has great power and I was glad that he was able to stand on his own like that without having to step on someone. Unfortunately he gets written out of most of the series with something that happens to him later on so that was unfortunate.

Another one of the captains is Vangeance who gets a really big role here. He has tree magic but that’s never been one of the more impressive kind of spells to me. Give me fire or water any day. Trees just don’t feel as versatile. Either way I don’t like this guy though. He’s not decisive in his actions and ends up causing more trouble for everyone. He may be a part of the strongest guild but he certainly doesn’t feel like the strongest captain. You get the feeling that a whole lot of the others could mop him up if they wanted too.

Now the wizard king Julius actually lives up to his hype. That guy looks fantastic in all of his appearances. There were a lot of jokes about him basically being Naruto and they worked because this is how you imagine Naruto would be when he makes it to the top. Julius has created a world of peace and he’s so powerful that almost nobody dares to challenge him. His fight in the series is really intense and the kingdom can really feel safe with him at the top. I definitely liked the guy quite a lot.

While not a captain, Asta obtained a new rival in this arc in Leopold. I use the term a bit loosely because it feels like Leo never really got to do a whole lot. It’s like he’s set up to be a major player at some point but it never quite happened. I still think he has a lot of potential but he hasn’t really kept up with the power creep which hurts him a lot. If he is going to have a big moment it is going to need to happen soon or it’s all going to be over for him. Well, I guess he will still be likable even if he’s not one of the strongest but I would like to see more out of him. I have high expectations here.

After that there is an arc involving Gauche trying to save his sister. The arc is fairly low key and I don’t need to go into it much here but the big thing is that this directly leads into the leader of the midnight sun, Licht showing up. We then get a big fight with the heroes going up against him which then escalates further as the other members of the group appear and a few captains show up. The battles here were really high tier and Yami vs Licht is still brought up a lot to this day. This was when the series first started showing signs of the grander plan that would take us to the big Elf arc. There’s a lot of great setup here and one of the impressive bits may even be the fact that it was thrown into a story arc that felt like it was going to be very minor all the way through.

Licht appears in a very impressive way here. Not only can he attack at the speed of light which is crazy in itself but he also appears to care about his comrades. I always thought that was a solid trait for a villain since it makes them feel like more of a fleshed out character instead of some random villain wanting to destroy the world. His moveset is solid and he gets a lot of great fights here. I definitely don’t believe you will be disappointed at all when this fight is all over and done with and in the character either. He opens and finishes strong.

Vetto is then the most impressive member of the Midnight Sun. His big role is in the arc after this one as he gets to go up against pretty much the entire Black Bulls team on his own. The guy fights wave after wave of enemies and just keeps on going. It’s absolutely crazy how much stamina the guy has and while he does tend to ramble on and on about despair, the guy can back up the crazy talk. I ended up liking him quite a bit and he is really the reason why the underwater temple arc was so good.

Rhya is also a solid villain. He’s more the cold and calculating type but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. He still ends up being very helpful to the villains with how his copy ability works. There aren’t too many fighters who can stand up to him and he was also the first to realize that something was up with the devil even if it was just too late by that point. In a way he doesn’t get to cut loose as much as the other two members but he also doesn’t go crazy.

Fana is like Vetto in how much she dislikes the humans. She tends to yell a lot about the whole thing and just goes in guns blazing. She certainly isn’t conflicted about the whole situation. Fana has some solid fights here and makes for a solid all around villain. Definitely not someone that you want to mess with. From the hero side, we get to see Charlotte in action here. She’s another captain with grass type powers only hers are vines instead of trees. She’s much better than Vangeance and while her crush on Yami can mean that she is often flustered, she doesn’t let this show when she goes up against the big villains. To them she is just another really powerful captain that they have to watch out for. Charlotte commands a lot of respect in a battle and I’d say that she’s solid enough.

Then there is Jack and I do like the guy but my one issue is that I don’t feel like he’s as strong as you’re meant to believe. see, he’s Yami’s rival but it feels like the gap in power between them is absolutely massive. If they are as evenly matched as the show would have you believe, then Jack should look way better during his solo moments. He is usually portrayed as either being all talk or on Yami’s level and the two versions of him are completely mutually exclusive. You can’t be both at once no matter how much this show may try to trick you otherwise.

Now we get to the underwater temple arc which is one of the highlights of the series. The heroes are finally making a move to try and get a step ahead of the Midnight Sun, but naturally those guys were ready for this. So we get to have a bunch of big fights against Vetto. This time the heroes are not leaving without taking him down for good and it’s a very tense fight all the way through. The animation is really excellent and it’s just a super memorable experience. For a lot of people this was the turning point and while the series was already amazing for me prior to this, it certainly kept on raising the bar.

We got to meet the singer Kahano who quickly hit it off with Noelle. Kahano was a very nice character along with Kiato as the two of them did their best to help out. Unfortunately the burden of trying to help out the main characters while not being a part of them is that you tend to get absolutely crushed into the dust. These two really did their best but ultimately they weren’t ready. I liked them well enough and they actually remained relevant to a much larger extent than I expected.

Also, I didn’t talk about her much before but Grey is another member of the Black Bulls and she’s around the whole time too. Her ability is seemingly to shapeshift which isn’t too handy though. As of now you could say that her role is still very minimal so she hasn’t done a whole lot yet. Grey can be way too timid for me though which keeps her from being one of the top characters. Gordon is another Black Bull member and his gimmick is that he talks so silently that nobody can hear what he is saying. It definitely gets old rather quickly. His powers are all poison based which is handy at least but that’s still not quite enough to turn him into a good character. For now he’s just too gimmicky but I’d like to see him develop into a really solid character down the line.

Then we have a small filler arc or at least it felt like filler to me where Asta helps his (novel exclusive) mentor find Dominate after she has vanished. The heroes have to deal with the traitor Mariella and figure out what’s going on. I’d say the main issue with this one is that the villains feel way too weak so the heroes should be absolutely stomping them the whole time. Instead Fanzell just doesn’t feel very impressive at all. You get the vibe that Asta surpassed him a very long time ago. It was a decent little story saga but nothing to write home about.

Same for the characters. Fanzell is okay but he’s not making my top 20 list any time soon. Dominate doesn’t appear long enough to leave much of an impression either and of course Mariella didn’t really make the best calls. All in all I would be fine if they never appear again. It’s not like they were super bad or anything but they just don’t add anything to the dynamic so you could just give their scenes to someone else.

Now the next big arc is the Witch queen one. The heroes needs to find a way to heal Asta’s arms after the events of the temple saga and this is the best place to do it. The Witch Queen is supposed to have abilities far beyond that of anyone else when it comes to reversing curses and such. Naturally she isn’t super nice though so that won’t be easy. Additionally, the diamond kingdom and midnight sun are attacking again so the heroes have to deal with that too. It’ll be a busy time for them but they’re ready for this.

The Witch Queen herself is about as shady and nefarious as you would expect. She would absolutely murder all the heroes at the drop of a hat if she got her way. I do think she’s a bit shortsighted in this since the villains would then be able to take her out really quick though. She’s confident in her defenses but shouldn’t be because they just wouldn’t hold up. So I wouldn’t really say I’m a big fan of hers at the moment. She could turn out to be good down the road but for now I’m not impressed.

Likewise, the big villain here is Ladros and there’s just not much to him. He’s super strong so he’s absolutely a threat in combat but that doesn’t translate to him being a great villain. He can absolutely decimate his opponents in combat but there’s more to being a villain than that. He doesn’t have much personality or any super likable traits so that’s game over for him.

Mereoleona gets to appear after the climax as she gets ready to train the heroes and go with them to the elf invasion. Now here’s a top tier character who has a lot of great moments throughout. Whenever she is on screen you know that the heroes are finally going to learn a lot and will be able to push their skills to the next level. She loves fighting even more than Luck and has the skills to back it up so that’s good enough for me. Any scene with her is always fun.

After that we get to the big tournament and I’d been waiting for this. After all, tournaments are always super hype. All of the big characters are in this including some that we hadn’t gotten to see much of before now. It’s mostly a friendly tournament but Langris starts to go a bit crazy here so you can expect him to make some noise. It leads into one of the most intense scenes in the series though when the Black Bulls come close to ending him. They certainly weren’t about to let anything happen and I love to see teamwork like that. You gotta look out for each other in a moment like this.

Suffice it to say, Langris never really went very high for me. Sure, mind control played a part in some of the scenes, but not all of them and that’s an important distinction to make. By and large he is still responsible for what he was doing the whole time. He just had a bad attitude, there’s no two ways about it. The guy has a tremendous amount of power too so you would think that he would be more content with what he’s got instead of always looking around. That’s definitely a lesson that he needs to learn sooner than later.

Zora is a new member to the Black Bulls and right away he becomes one of the best members. I like how this guy openly takes on the royals and doesn’t put up with any of their nonsense. To an extent he acts like a vigilante at first and never really loses his edge but by the end he’s also a team player. His trap style of magic is also very effective although I feel like by its own nature it will never make him quite as powerful as some of the other fighters. It just inherently has some limits to it but he’s shown that he can work with those so far.

Sol is Charlotte’s right hand woman and she’s a decent enough character. I like that she’s always got a fiery spirit. Unfortunately she never gets to fight all that much but I see her having some potential as a strong side character. Sol is someone who could probably shine if the series ever got a true spinoff manga. Then you have Kirsch who is Mimosa’s brother. He’s the one where I feel like she’s too harsh at times. The guy is rather vain but compared to the rest of the nobles he is a decently nice guy. His abilities are also handy especially in a team format. He’s not really my kind of character but the guy does well enough.

In the tournament Rill gets to enter and I always thought that was a bit odd since he is a captain. Well, I suppose he’s one of the younger ones but even so I would have expected him to not have been allowed. His fight against Yuno is one of the highlights of the arc and it was great to see one of the main characters finally going up against a captain. To me this cemented what I had known for a very long time which is that Yuno and Asta were already captain level. Rill’s abilities are cool but his overall personality isn’t really my thing. He tends to space out and not be as focused as he should be.

Finally you have Alecdora who was trying to be a rival to Yuno for a long while. Unfortunately for him, his abilities aren’t nearly at a level that would cause Yuno to sweat at all. Seriously, this guy just doesn’t stand any kind of chance against him. Alecdora’s also rather stuck up so it takes a while for him to acknowledge Yuno’s overall abilities. Once he does then he becomes a much better character.

This leads us to the Elf arc which is widely known as the best saga in the series. I would absolutely agree with this too. Part of what makes the arc work so well is because it was being built up since near the beginning of the series. It’s also a very long arc much like Hueco Mundo where every character gets their own fight. Even the supporting characters finally get some action and there are a lot of villains to go around. The arc also has two parts to it as you have the initial invasion where the heroes try to take the Elves out and then the counterstrike where a bunch of people end up getting mind controlled.

There are so many iconic moments in this like Yuno using his strength of will to overcome the brainwashing or actually seeing the previous wizard king get to fight. There were just so many amazing scenes here and of course the battles were all top notch. The amount of replay value here is also incredibly high. You just don’t want to peel yourself away from the episodes and can probably blast through the entire thing in an instant. That’s when you know that you’ve got a really elite show by your side.

One villain in this arc is Sally who technically has been appearing here and there but this seemed like a good time to bring her up. She’s not really my kind of villain though as she’s one of those crazy scientists who runs a ton of twisted experiments but it feels like the heroes let it slide to an extent. At this point she is practically here as an anti-hero but she should be getting big jail time right away. She’s not someone you could ever hope to trust.

Then we have another Black Bull named Henry and his gimmick is that he talks really slowly. Unfortunately that destroyed the character for me. Gimmicks like that where you talk too slowly or too quietly just hurt because then it takes forever for the character to make any points. So any scene with Henry was more on the painful side than being emotional which is really not a good idea. His ability to absorb mana is cool at least.

Next up is Dorothy who is one of the captains but unfortunately for her fans she doesn’t get to do a whole lot. Her dream powers are incredibly powerful but she always happens to fight opponents who can hard counter it. Put it this way, she should be able to beat over 80% of the cast easily but she always goes up against the final 20%. She’s a fun character though who is always relaxing because deep down she knows how strong she is. Dorothy is quirky but not in an annoying way so there’s a lot to enjoy about her.

Secre is another Black Bull and you can tell how the series keeps adding new members as it goes along. Technically she was around since the start of the series as a bird but only gets to use her human form later on. Secre is another solid character who keeps all of the others on their toes with her quick wit. Her ability to unseal things is a very specific power but one that certainly has her uses. I enjoy what she brings to the table in terms of the character dynamics.

Of course a big character in this arc is Zagred as the first devil to fight the heroes. The show goes all out with this guy as he pretty much takes on the entire cast at once. If the show was trying to prove why this guy is an absolutely huge threat then it completely succeeded. He definitely strikes fear into his opponents and it’s all well deserved. Anything he says comes true which is a really scary power to go up against. Also as a Devil he just wants to cause chaos and misfortune to everyone around him. Not exactly the kind of villain you can reason with.

Finally there is Lumiere and I liked him a lot. He’s not quite as cool as the current Wizard King but you can see how this guy once had the rank and did a lot of good with it. His abilities have a lot of versatility to them and his raw power is exceptional. Put him up against almost any other character in the series and it would be an easy win for him. I also liked his bond with Secre, they were definitely good friends.

Finally we head to the final saga in the series. First there is a bit of a court drama as the people want Asta executed for being a devil host but the Black Bulls put a stop to that really quick. I was glad that they did not entertain this notion at all and just broke in. It was another great scene to show how much unity the Black Bulls have and how they will do whatever it takes to protect each other. Of course the real final saga comes after this and we even get a time skip.

The characters now have new designs although the one that stands out the most is certainly Asta. The devils are finally making their move as the Spade Kingdom sends the Dark Triad to capture 3 fighters while also invading the Heart Kingdom. Asta and friends have to go to each of the spots to defend their allies but these villains are far more powerful than any that they have encountered before. The Elf arc previously showed how powerful one devil was so you can imagine how taking on 3 would be an incredibly difficult task. The only thing that helps the heroes a bit is that the devils are using human hosts and can’t fully manifest the way that the last one did. If they could do that then the heroes would absolutely have no shot at taking the win. It would just be completely impossible at that point.

While not quite as long or ambitious as the Elf Arc, this one certainly comes close. Once we get a sequel anime to adapt the rest of the arc it’ll get even closer as it still is a super long arc with a lot of great fights. I also always enjoy a good timeskip and getting to see how all of the heroes have grown stronger with their techniques. The new opening theme song for this saga was also excellent to the point where I put this as the best intro in the series.

Damnatio is the judge who wanted Asta executed and he certainly gets a solid role here. I liked the guy, he may not be a big fighter or some kind of super villain but his abilities are cool. I don’t think he would have lasted long against the Black Bulls in an even fight but this guy is not meant for the front lines anyway. He’s a good way to represent what the general public of the Clover Kingdom think and how they are always very ungrateful. So he’s a fun antagonist here.

We also meet the leader of the Heart Kingdom in Loropechika, but I definitely can’t say that I was really a fan of hers. She cries way too much and being a klutz is part of her whole character personality. That’s never too endearing for me, I wish she would be able to get serious a lot quicker. If you commander can’t really fight, what does that do for morale? Maybe she’ll look better right now but so far she’s one of the weakest characters for sure.

She has a group of warriors who fight below her but the only one with actual development is Gaja. The others are around but you can’t take them too seriously and feel like they are going to get absolutely dominated the whole time. At least Gaja can actually fight the whole time and his abilities are the real deal. He gets to train the heroes and he is very devoted to protecting the queen. So I’d give that guy a thumbs up even while the rest of the group did not seem very impressive.

Then we get to the Dark Triad and they are all powerful fighters. That said, Dante is not really my kind of character. For starters, the guy is one of those villains who is obsessed with women and distracts him from the actual fight at hand. He’s also one of those proud villains who feels like he shouldn’t have to fight commoners and all that. He’s the kind of villain you’ve seen a million times before but who doesn’t really leave an impact. As a villain to be fought he lives up to the hype and looks great but as a character he wasn’t my kind of villain.

The second member Vanica was a lot more interesting. She is on the insane side at times which isn’t always my thing but at least she loves a good fight and is all about the action. Vanica likes to insult her opponents while fighting them as well but isn’t getting distracted from her core purpose. Now she’s a villain who you don’t want to mess with at all and she has personal ties to Noelle and the queen which adds a personal dynamic to the whole mix.

Finally there is Zenon who is easily the best member of the trio. This guy is very serious and down to business as he attacks Yuno and the squad. His bone magic is cool to watch and the guy just feels unbeatable. It’s clear from the jump that he is the strongest member of the triad by far. He doesn’t show any moments of weakness or even come close to appearing to be on the losing side. He dominates his fights from start to finish and that’s the kind of villain you want to see the heroes go up against.

Then as we end the series and get the setup for the next arc, two more characters show up. First is Liebe who is the devil that has been residing inside of Asta. We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up for so long that it was surreal to finally see him appear. Of course as luck would have it, he’s considerably weaker than all of the other devils who have appeared. So don’t expect him to be showing up to take names immediately but he does have a lot of character development. We even get to see his backstory which was very emotional. I’m excited to have him become a main character now since his dynamic with Asta is really going to be intense. Their battle was also a fitting way to end the series because of how emotional it was and all of the callbacks that got to be included.

Finally there is Nacht, the final Black Bull. He’s not as happy go lucky as the rest and even tends to insult Yami which is something that Asta and the others don’t like. He has several devils at his disposal though and is currently a very mysterious character. We don’t know a lot about him yet but I can say that he is starting the series off strong. I would say the mystique works really well here and you definitely want to see what he can do in a fight.

Overall, Well there’s always more to say about a series like this but I’d say that’s good for now. Naturally there are more characters and events out there but you should watch the series yourself to see all the extra details. Black Clover is a super all around show and I definitely recommend checking it out when you have the time. It is over 150 episodes long so you will need a lot of time but the episodes really blend together with how quick the pacing is. Hopefully they hurry up with the movie and the sequel show because it feels like we’ve been waiting for a long while. The post time skip events were just getting started after all so we need to see how it all ends. It’ll be tough for another title to top this one but we’ll see how it goes.

Overall 9/10